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By Capt. Scott Cerone
357th Fighter Squadron

7/11/2003 -DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (ACCNS) — A Vietnam War hero was awarded an Air Force Cross here June 20, giving him proper recognition and closing a chapter in his life.

Retired Col. Jerry Hoblit’s actions during the Vietnam War warranted his receipt of the Air Force Cross, but it took the actions of his wingman, Col. Tom Wilson, to help set the record straight.

Then Capts. Hoblit, the pilot, and Wilson, the electronic weapons officer, flew 100 missions over North Vietnam in their “Thud”, an F-105 Thunderchief. They were two of the first Wild Weasels in the history of the U.S. Air Force.

The Wild Weasel mission was to protect strike packages from enemy surface-to-air missile sites by searching them out and engaging them. It was almost as if these pilots and EWOs were asked to walk into a lion’s den holding two giant ribeye steaks in their hands and hope to lose only their fingers.

“Back (in 2002) the History Channel was interviewing us for their special program, ‘Suicide Missions – Wild Weasels,’” Colonel Wilson wrote. “I realized that Jerry Hoblit had one fewer Silver Star than I did. I researched my records and discovered that Jerry was on each set of orders for all of the decorations I received except for one and that one was a particularly intense mission.”

“I contacted our old squadron commander and asked him if Jerry had been submitted for a medal for that mission. He checked in his personal journal for that date and confirmed that Jerry Hoblit had been submitted for an Air Force Cross for that mission and reminded me that we had been shot up pretty good by anti-aircraft fire and landed at Udorn (Royal Thai Air Base). I gathered up all of the paperwork and resubmitted it through our local congressman. That was one year ago.”

The medal was approved May 23, and 12 Wild Weasels from the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron came to see one of their old friends receive the second highest decoration for valor and heroism in combat 36 years after earning it.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., is the current home of the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, now known as the 357th Fighter Squadron, thus the appropriate place for the award presentation.

After the presentation ceremony, Colonel Hoblit’s wife, Rosalie, was overwhelmed by the day’s events.

“I am so happy,” she said. “All those Silver Stars he received were just handed to him in an office, still in the box. There were no ceremonies. Today was just beautiful.”

Southern Utah Vets Aid/St. George Utah

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