It occurred to me then and continues to creep its way into my mind. It is the equality that the Military imparts to all new recruits. As it was explained by my military recruit toward the end of my teenage kingdom:

“One of the things the Military does to see to unity and equality among the ranks is to (quite simply) shave a man’s hair all the way down to the skin. That way, the coolest guy in your senior class is lost in a sea of men who all look alike — not particularly cool at all.”

Many males can’t live without the prestige of being the best-looking, coolest-car-driving, slickest-hair-having stud in class. Other men crave that lifestyle because it levels the sociological playing field and kind of gives them one more shot at being the captain of the school sports teams, dating the prom queen, and being the first to qualify for a credit card.

Americans, though, by nature, are a competitive species of people, always looking for the next best thing to advance themselves and stand out in a crowd of peers.

Richard Bong, an all-American boy, and top American Ace who downed some 40 enemy pilots mostly in the top Nazi fighter, the Messerschmitt ME-109. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A downfall to being an American Ace is that if you get too good, the military is likely to send you back to school to train raw recruits how to fly… you know, learn from the best and only the best. Richard, shortly after arriving to flight trainer status, had an in-air mishap and crashed, killing himself and destroying his aircraft. His choice of fighter was the Lockheeds P-38 Lighting; the same aircraft was also a favorite of Colonel Charles“Chuck” Jaeger. Charles became a double ace in a single day.

The eminent General Charles “front-and-ready-for flight” a new experimental airframe. He wasn’t scared, not Chuck. He is the first man to pilot the X-15 rocket-powered air vehicle, Breaking world speed and altitude.

A View From The Other Side

Erich Hartmann. Giving credit where credit is due. He just happens to be the most successful fighter ace of all time. Maybe that’s why he’s smiling. He was forced to crash land his aircraft 16 times during his career and walked away each time. Hartmann was never shot down by enemy fire, lucky bastard.

From the Germany of the Nazi Third Reich, Erich Hartmann shot down some 545 Allied fighter warplanes. How did the Germans manage to shoot such a staggering trove of Allied aircraft? If you look up the statistics from my all-American point of view, you might surmise that the Axis country’s men and machines were just not up to par with that of the United States of America. Or, you can admit to being an ass, be an ass on-call, and wait until the next war breaks out and just double your old kill number.

Looks nothing like those cartoons with Snoopy.

Baron Manfred Von Richthofen (the Red Baron), ~63 Allied kills though earlier on in the game of world war, was himself recognized as an ace combat flyer by his country (Germany) and earned its loyalty. It is because of this and his skill that enabled the system of the status of ace and established that system and the five-kill Ace Flyer. For all that skill and glory that the Red Baron brought to the national take, he was eventually shot down by Canadian Arthur Roy Brown.

By Almighty God and with respect and honor.