John Robert Hazelwood – Senior Master Sergeant, United States Air Force

Michael: Here it goes as far as John Robert Hazelwood is concerned. He was born September 26,1924 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

John enlisted in the Army in San Angelo, Texas in 1939. That is significant because he was born September 26, 1924 and passed away October 21st, 1994. he was 15 when he joined … mainly because there was nothing else available.

John's mother died in 1936 and his Dad became increasingly depressed. There were twelve kids in the household in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The oldest brother had long left. The ten remaining girls finally decided to lock him out of the house one night in 1938 and he was on his own.

He tried rodeo work for food. He then worked for Bob Wills as a Coke kid for awhile. Finally in San Angelo, he met a preacher who directed him to the recruiting Sergeant. Somehow he managed to get in.

The Army soon discovered his age and assigned him as dental tech at Fort Sam Houston, Texas,  for three years.

A few years later, as a Staff Sergeant he tried pilot school. He was good pilot, by all accounts, but had 0% discipline.

The Army then sent him to train as a B-24 bomber crew member for eight months in Harlingen, Texas. He flew 25 DOCUMENTED sorties in the South Pacific with the 13th Jungle Air Force, 5th Bomb Group, 31st Squadron as an Engineer-Gunner. I think that's where he matured at the age of 20. He ever talked about kills and we never asked him about them.

Became what is now a Crew Chief on RF-80's in Korea and then went to B-29 school. Some indications are that he flew a number of missions there.

By that time he was married, with three kids and he settled down. My Mother, Emma Catherine Hazelwood's, ashes are in an urn there in Arlington for her contributions in World War II as a T-5 at Walter Reed Hospital, but that's another story.

Some time later, after many various schools we wound up at Lincoln, Air Force Base in the early 1950's. There he flew well in excess of 1500 hours in a KC-97 as a Flight Engineer and in the 1960's about the same in EC-121's

This where it gets interesting. During the Cuban missile crises Dad was with the 966 AEW&C. He was Senior Sergeant and took part in 12 hour reconnaissance missions.

One night during the crises, while on patrol, they lost engines on the Connie. After all but he and the pilot parachuted, they manager to land  at McCoy, Air Force Base with but one engine operating.

  • His military awards and decorations included Air Medal with two Bronze Clusters
  • Presidential Unit Citation with two Bronze Clusters
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • Asian Pacific Campaign Medal (Two silver stars, One bronze)
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupational Medal
  • Korean Service medal (One B bronze Cluster)
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • Air Force Longevity Service (4 oak clusters)
  • NCO ME
  • Philippines Liberation Medal (One Bronze Cluster)
  • Philippines Independence Medal
  • Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
  • United Nations Service Medal

After his retirement in 1969, as a Senior Master Sergeant, he went on to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA-Bendix) during the attempts to put the first man on the moon. After that program slowed down, he worked or the State of Florida designing inspection stations.

Not bad for a poor country kid from Guthrie, Oklahoma. Arlington, you should  be proud of him as I am.

Bob Hazelwood, March 2003

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