A native of Lake Orion, Michigan,(Born: 12 December, 1922) Ernest Charles Fiebelkorn was one of the largest fighter pilots to see action in the E.T.O. At 6'4" and 225 pounds, he had a difficult time getting himself into the cockpit of his P-51D Serial #44-11161 Squadron Code LC-N, "June Nite" (named for his wife.) He attended Michigan State University and graduated from flight training at Williams AAF Base, Ariz with class 43-H. He was assigned to the 20th.FG on 11 January, 1944.
When asked about Fiebelkorn, Maj. Jack Ilfrey stated, " I don't know why he wasn't made a bomber pilot, he was that tall!" Though his tour started slow, he ended the war as the top scoring ace in the 20th Fighter Group. On 28 September, 1944 he was credited with downing three Me-109s and a FW-190 near Magdeburg. For this he was awarded the Silver Star. On 2, Nov. 1944 he scored another triple (3 enemy aircraft downed in one day) during an escort mission to Leipzig, and was again awarded a Silver Star. He shared in the destruction of an Me-262 five days later, along with Lt. Edward Hayden, of the 357th.FG. The German jet fighter was piloted by the famed German ace Maj. Walter Notwotny (fifth highest scoring ace of all time with 258 victories and Commander JG-7, the first jet equipped Fighter Group.) Unfortunately Fiebelkorn later became one of the first US pilots killed during the Korean conflict, on 6 July, 1950, while flying a F-82 Twin-Mustang with his radar observer, John J. Higgins. Their remains were discovered nearly 2 1/2 years later on a mountain 40 miles north of Seoul. Fiebelkorn was finally laid to rest with full honors at Arlington National Cememtary. He left a wife and a son.
He was awarded The Air Medal, with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, The Distinguished Flying Cross, with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluaster. His final scare was 9 victories in the air, 1 damaged, 2 damaged on the ground.He flew a total of 320 hours, 10 minutes in combat with the 20th.FG. In addition to the previously mention mount, Fielbelkorn also flew P-38J, Serial #42-68068, Squadron code: LC-N (also named "June Nite") and P-51D Serial #44-14823, Squadron code: LC-F. He was the highest scoring USAAF ace of Michigan.
Lt. Earnest Fiebelkorn(far right) with his crew, Sgt. Barney Yanchitis, Armorer,
T/Sgt. Carl W. Tucker, Crew Chief, Cpl. Nicholas Trynaski, Asst.Crew Chief.
The photo was taken 11 Sept.,1944 before the 20th.FG's Franticmission.
"...Fieb certainly was a personality. We were Class mates (43-H). He had the
attention of his instructors in Advanced Flying School. I remember graduation
day, Fieb was in the line behind me. Some instructors were always on his case about
something, one even told him that he was "either about to become a hero or get
killed". In RTU, he was one of a small group that was selected about mid-term
to be pulled out of training to fill an emergency order from England for pilots.
This group was considered to be most capable of the class. Such as Fieb,
Rader, Rourk, Riemensnider. They would arrive some six weeks before the rest of
One day, an instructor got an oxygen disconnect. He passed out and was going down in a
compressibility dive. Jordan, Fieb, and Butler all tried to stay in formation.
The instructor came to and pulled out. Jordan's plane's tail came off and he bailed, his plane was flopping around and chewed him up in his chute. Fieb manages to get his out
of dive, and with Butler straggling behind returned OK. I can remember standing with Fieb
while Jimmy Mattern of Lockheed is inspecting Fieb's plane. It was a sight, three
to six inch round holes popped out of canopy, the trim tabs were curled up 90-degrees and the tail-attach bulkhead rivets had been elongated and stretched unbelievably.
Fieb was originally assigned to 79th. Seems he was always in some trouble with
numerous groundings. For a time he was off flying status assigned to Group HQ.
I always thought he was there for laughs. Then he was assigned to the 77th.FS (at the request of Col. Gustke).
There they seemed to appreciate his unique personality and Fieb thrived to
become our top ace. Of course, the upside down thru the hanger was bar talk* as a
51's engine would be quite dead while inverted at negative G's. I could believe
the through the hanger part, though even that is unlikely. Interesting stories were always
coming up though like the day Fieb, Rader, Kummerle, and Kendrick, tied into a
column of Tiger Tanks which brought all four down, June 12, 1944. Then there was his
involvement with the shooting down of one of German's most famous Aces,
A story, unconfirmed but typical of Fieb, was of his last mission (which he had volunteered for).
It goes something like this: In Korea, Fieb's flight had been dispatched to
help a ground unit trapped and under attack. Fieb, finding the weather bad,
left his flight and attempted, alone, to let down in mountainous terrain to get to the trapped unit. The mountain won..."
--Capt. Arthur W. Heiden (79th.FS/20th.FG)
Michigan's Own, Inc. Military and Space Museum, in Frankenmuth Michigan (Fiebelkorn's home state,) features a display of items that belonged to Capt. Fiebelkorn. This display includes a belt and holster he wore and war-vintage 8th.AF and 77th.FS patches, which were donated by T/Sgt. Roy Buettner, of the 20th.FG/77th.FS. To view a picture of this display Click Here.
*= A reference to an incident where Fiebelkorn, Capt. Baldwin and others of the 20th.FG appearantly decided to fly to a bomber base to see Glenn Miller. Fiebelkorn supposedly flew through the hanger the show was held at in an inverted attitude. He was grounded, so the story goes.