Korean War Legacy Project

Thomas W. Stevens


Thomas Stevens served in the newly created US Air Force during the Korean War. He was born in 1933 in New York City, but grew up in the Midwest, graduating from high school in Springfield, Missouri in 1951. That same year, he enlisted in the Air Force. Tom Stevens’ specialty was aerial gunnery and during the Korean War, he was part of the 307th Bomb Wing, flying combat missions out of Okinawa over North Korea. After the Armistice, Thomas Stevens was part of a group that trained loading atomic bombs onto the B-47 in the event that the U.S. wanted to use an atomic bomb against the Soviet Union. After his discharge in 1955, Thomas Stevens went to college and had a long career as a Management Trainer for Southwest Bell Telephone.


Video Clips

Black Tuesday

Thomas Stevens describes Black Tuesday, a time when the U.S. Air Force lost multiple B29s flying missions over North Korea due to the newly introduced Russian MiG 15, jet propelled and faster than the P-51 Mustang escorts. He attributes this to the superiority of the MiG-15's speed. Thomas Stevens says that after Black Tuesday, the U.S. Air Command, under Curtis Lamay decreed that there would be no more daylight missions to North Korea.

Tags: Front lines,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Bombing Raids over North Korea

Thomas Stevens describes bombing raids over North Korea. All of the bombing missions were done at night, and had to use triangulation of an electronic arc. He describes the targets as belligerent stockpiles and bridges. Thomas Stevens describes the bombing missions as difficult, because of dropping bombs from 26,000 feet and trying to hit a small target. These bombing missions were far into North Korea and at times the planes went into Chinese airspace.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,North Koreans,Weapons

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Hot Cold War to Driving Off in the Sunset

Thomas Stevens describes the military aircraft advances from B-29's, a WWII aircraft which had limited distance, to B-50's that could be air-refueled and travel to the Soviet Union if needed. He describes his training to load atomic bombs on planes in case the U.S. wanted to drop one on the Soviet Union. Air advances, like the B-47 made Thomas Stevens obsolete without more training. This led Thomas Stevens to be discharged from the Air Force.

Tags: Communists,Front lines,North Koreans,Weapons

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