Korean War Legacy Project

John Rolston


John Rolston enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a seventeen-year-old senior in high school during the end of WWII.  Soon, he moved to the Air Force as an airplane mechanic in Japan where he was able to work on P51 and C51 planes rebuilding engines.  John Rolston went to West Point Military Academy and became a fighter pilot and instructor for a variety of planes.  While flying in and out of Osan Airbase in 1954-55, John Rolston supported ground forces and he trained for a possible North Korean attack.  After working at a variety of military bases around the world and the Pentagon, he worked his way up to a one-star general and then retired in 1980.

Video Clips

Moments of Danger

John Rolston shares how he had to land on pierced steel planking instead of cement. He shares concerns he had about flying in certain weather conditions. He explains how the snow and rain were terrifying conditions that made his plane spin around. He shares the fears he had that he might not survive some landings or take-offs.

Tags: Osan,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Physical destruction

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Close Encounter with a North Korean Pilot

John Rolston describes being a flight leader and bringing people to Japan and they were returning. He shares how he was very close to shooting down a North Korean pilot who went below the 38th parallel. He shares how he could have shot the pilot, but he didn't want to murder someone who was lost.

Tags: Osan,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,Weapons

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Life at Osan Airbase in 1954-55

John Rolston shares his fourteen-month experience at the Osan Airbase. He shares information about the F-86 planes there and the number of pilots that would be there. He states the weather was so cold that the fuel would freeze in the planes. He shares information about food during this time and missing his family. He explains the stability at the DMZ during this time since both the North and South didn't want to restart the war.

Tags: Osan,Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans

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