John Blankenship was born in Ashland, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky before enlisting in the Air Force in 1950. While in college, John Blankenship was a member of the university football team and played in both the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. He was a member of the aviation cadet program and was stationed at Daegu Air Force Base. Later, he was stationed at the Kimpo Air Force Base as a part of the 12th tackle recon unit, 8th bomb squad, 3rd bomb group. John Blankenship participated in 87 missions as an air force pilot and was promoted to 1st lieutenant by the time of his discharge in 1952. After the Korean War, he continued with a career in the military as part of the Strategic Air Command to fly troops, cargo, and injured soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Targets of Opportunity
John Blankenship participated in night time bombing raids to go after "targets of opportunity." There are differences in capability between the A26 which was piloted by John Blankenship, and the Soviet-built MIGS that were being used by the North Korean pilots. John Blankenship's A26 flew only at night because the Korean MIGS didn't fly at night, so it kept his A26 safe.
Night Missions with Napalm
John Blankenship knew that he was always in danger and a few of his friends were shot down. He flew every night and ended up flying 87 missions in about 1 year. The A26 held 14 gun, 4-6 bombs, and napalm. When enemy convoys stopped and were trapped, John Blankenship dropped napalm on North Korean troops.
Typical Day as a Pilot
John Blankenship remembers spending lots of time sleeping when he wasn't flying missions. He was provided food from Japan that was made my cooks in the Air Force and he was given one hot meal a day. The pilots often ate WWII C-Rations to supplement meals. An important mission that John Blankenship was part of included the bombing of Pyungyang and a town near the Yalu River.