Dolphin D. “Dolph” Overton, III shot down five communist fighter aircraft to become an ace in only four days during the Korean War. born in Andrews, South Carolina, he began flying at a young age and had had soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub by age 16. He attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. When World War II broke out, Overton joined the Navy, where he served as a seaman for the duration of the war. After Returning home, he earned an appointment to the United States Military Academy. Upon graduating from West Point in 1949, he opted to become an Air Force pilot and began jet fighter training shortly thereafter at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. He earned his wings in 1950, and was assigned to the 31st Fighter Group at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia. While there, Overton qualified in the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. He flew in the Air Force’s first mass trans-Atlantic fighter deployment from the United States to England later that year. In 1951, he volunteered for duty in Korea and completed 102 missions in the Thunderjet flying ground attack missions from Taegu AB while assigned to the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing. After just six months of combat, Overton became a flight commander and subsequently the Operations Officer of the 8th Fighter Bomber Squadron. During this tour, he also served as a forward air controller directing close air support for allied troops on the front lines.
Additionally, he assisted Navy carrier pilots on the USS Valley Forge with their close air support programs. He volunteered for a second combat tour and joined the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Suwon AB, Korea. Overton transitioned to the North American F-86 Sabre and on 21 January 1953, he destroyed two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s. He downed another MiG on the 22nd, one on the 23rd, and another on the 24th to become a jet ace in the record time of only four days. For his service, Overton was awarded nine air medals, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Distinguished Service Cross, and three Silver Stars. After the armistice went into effect, Overton resigned from the Air Force.
Through the years, he continued his love of aviation. The Carolinas Aviation Museum named their Aviation Library in his honor. He also collected and restored more than 90 vintage airplanes, donating most of them to various museums and institutions around the world.
Dolph Overton was first selected as an Eagle by Air Command and Staff College’s Gathering of Eagles in 1999 and subsequently honored in 2008.