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Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit

Article about: I recently bought a house and this flight suit was hanging in the closet. It belonged to Captain Shumake a F-4 fighter pilot (estate who I bought the house from) and seems like he had an imp

  1. #11


    Thank you for additional photos,

    The additional documents and photos are helpful, and as I look at them if Captain Shumake was a pilot there would have or should have been wings on the fatigue uniform or at least the dress uniform. There is also a Silver Star Medal on the dress uniform which may also be researched, but the medals are not consistent with the Air Force. There is an Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal (Middle medal, bottom row) which MIGHT have been awarded if the Captain Served in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. There are two versions of this decoration. The first design bears the inscription "United States Army Reserve," the other design bears the inscription, "Army National Guard." The Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal (ARCAM) was established by the Secretary of the Army (DA General Orders 30, 1971) on 3 March 1971 and amended by DA General Orders 4, 1974.

    It is definitely a grouping worthy of research but at this point I think the DFC decoration/citation is still a fabrication and the grouping remains open to many questions and research.


  2. #12


    Is anyone able to see if his name shows up under the 51st fighter squadron as my records show? Or let me know the database to search for that?

    Here is the medal close up and notice the RAF wings on his uniform. What do you make of this?

    Also, I tried for 15 mins to get the pictures reoriented. They are in the correct orientation on my computer and then when I upload into the forum it turns them. Advice?
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

  3. #13


    Looking at his orders it appears that the captain had served with the 51st Combat Support Group. I will have to look further into this when I have a free moment.

    This is still a very interesting research project.


  4. #14


    The RAF wings is interesting/surprising perhaps suggests some secondment to the RAF, was he based in Britain?, did he do pilot training with the RAF?, all areas worth investigating as the story seems to move further from the 555th TFS.
    The group of medal ribbons in the photo #12 of Shumake doesn't seem to be the same as the medals on the Mess Dress jacket.
    Which is beginning to look like a assembly of unrelated documents and items.

  5. #15


    Looking at the additional images the British cap badge is not Royal Corps of Transport but Royal Army Service Corps which became RCT in 1965 but I still can't imagine why it is there and still think it looks fake.
    Also, as already speculated the British pilot wings do seem spurious but to me the most relevant point is that they are the King's Crown version which became redundant in 1953 so this chap would have to have had quite a long career!

    The plot thickens perhaps


    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  6. #16


    So I went back and looked at the portrait photo (assuming this would be the most accurate record). My wife looked at the picture and said "is that a sticker". What the hell! haha - the RAF badge was a sticker applied to the photo. I scratched off the corner. Mystery solved on that aspect.

    Now we know everything could be fabricated/manipulated so it's a good lens to view stuff through.

    Thanks for everyones thoughts so far.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

  7. #17


    Well, this has taken a different turn than what I was expecting.

    It would appear that someone embellished the record of Captain Shumake or possibly a case of misunderstanding however given the information that we have been looking into, it is apparent that he was not a pilot (At least not in the US Air Force, or Royal Air Force for that), and he was not decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, and possibly the same goes for the Silver Star Medal. I checked the Air Force data base for Silver Star recipients from Vietnam and a total of 143 Silver Stars were awarded, 98 of them being awarded to PJs (Pararescue Jumpers), and Captain Shumake's name does not appear on the listing.

    Looking further into the role of the 51st Combat Support Group, and based on the Citation for the Air Force Commendation Medal, I am thinking that the Captain served in some sort of administrative role with the group, and may have had access and or the ability to fabricate his own award citations or know of someone who could write a certificate for him. (Distinguished Flying Cross). We would have to dig deeper to see if there is a chance we could find out what MOS or career field the Captain was in.

    I am not claiming this as an example of Stolen Valor just yet, but all indicators so far are leaving me very skeptical about the actual authorized awards for this individual.

    I have unfortunately or fortunately depending on what side of the fence you are on, investigated many Stolen Valor Inquiries based on information that was provided to me. These often take time and in some cases the person is no longer alive. I worked for almost 2 years on a particular SV case involving a WW2 veteran who claimed to have been with Darby's Rangers and was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross in WW2. This Soldier then claimed to have gone on and served in 10th Special Forces in Germany and no information was ever found about either claims.

    The Search for Truth continues on this one... It is turning out to be quite intriguing.


  8. #18


    I pulled the transport badge in question on the mess jacket. It was held on by a safety pin.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

  9. #19


    Faking an USAF medal Citation, would that be fraud? Very probably illegal I would think. The description of him ejecting, landing and taking on half the North Vietnanese army sounded more like Rambo than real, as the OP actually commented. Which shows, first instincts often prove to be true. As it turned out the deception was clumsy and easily unraveled as the fakers hadn't done their research.

    On to some real 555th TFS heroes; Captains Steve Richie and Chuck DeBellevue (WSO) landing at Udorn RTAFB in August 1972 after downing their fifth MiG in aerial combat.

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit

  10. #20


    Quote by nbushyager View Post
    I know that the 555th patch is correct for Vietnam era. Which valuable version of the 555th patch do you mean? Also, what makes you say the son tay patch is not original - I have paperwork that he was involved in the operation. There were 3 patches according to my research and this is the Japanese made version.
    The son tay patch has a merrowed edge. The patch is supposed to be unofficial and made in country. This could be Vietnam or Japan or even another country altogether. However, this is not a period original in any shape, form or stretch. In reviewing the photos again, I stand by what I said before, but what I wrote before hinted at issues for the other two patches. I stand by what I said and emphasize that questions remain on those two remaining patches.

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