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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. #1

    Default Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit

    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 impressive career. Attached are one of his flight suits and a citation for the DFC with valor. This was the year before he participated in the Son Tay Raid. It's a crazy story in the citation of him taking on 12 MIGS by himself and making them retreat. Please read the citation -sounds like a movie script.

    Any thoughts on the uniform.
    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  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  
    Last edited by nbushyager; 01-30-2023 at 03:52 AM.

  2. #2

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    The son tay raid patch is not a period original. The phantom II and 555th look to be real/originals, but I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to know if the 555th is the type generally accepted as Vietnam era. I know it is not the "valuable" version of the 555th. Best ABN

  3. #3

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    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.

  4. #4

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    I have a bit of an interest in the 555 TFS during the Vietnam war after having lived at Udorn Thani in Thailand for two years. I noticed something in the Citation which seemed odd to me. The aerial victories over MiG fighters are dated 7 October 1969, and state the 555 TFS was Danang Vietnam based. But the 555 TFS was based at Udorn RTAFB Thailand between May 1968 and July 1974 as part of the 432 TRW.
    The other strange detail relates to F-4 aerial victories over a MiG in 1969. My reference book say 1969 was a very lean year for F-4 MiG killing with zero victories for both USAF and US Navy.
    Haven't been able to find any info on Captain Shumake either, perhaps someone else has.Was his backseater recovered after ejecting? By the way the Son Tay raid was launched out of Udorn RTAFB.

  5. #5

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    Its pretty sad that Captain Michael Warren Shumake does not appear in any veteran register I can find, (I may have made an error). I’m not saying anything about the uniform, I just don’t know enough about these patches. However, it is strange he is so hard to find info about. Maybe contact the relevant dept and investigate as this may be a travesty of justice.

  6. #6

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    I am very skeptical about the authenticity of the citation writeup as this is not how the United States Military would write an award certificate. There are too many errors in the wording as well as the authorization of the "V" Device on the Distinguished Flying Cross which was not authorized until 2004. This was retroactive to 1947, but if that certificate was typed during the Vietnam era it is bogus. Spelling errors also (helecopter vs helicopter) and "Troop of North Vietnam Regulars" makes no sense. They could have been North Vietnamese Regulars but again this citation is very questionable. The United States Military Citations do not abbreviate the branches of service like USAF. This would be spelled out United States Air Force, and "his country" would be typed out "United States of America". Whatever the blue seal is on the bottom left, I would like to see more detail on the raised lettering to see if there are any dates. I can see USAF I think but these seals can be faked and added very easily.

    I looked on ancestry and found some information about a Michael Warren Shumake but nothing related to military service. There was a Lt Michael W. Shumake that was apparently married in about 1967 but no other information about military service. I also checked the Distinguished Flying Cross Database for Vietnam and did not find anything.

    I also checked the F4 Phantom Mig Kills database for Vietnam, I found neither Shumake's name or date of engagement based on the citation (October 7, 1969) as a date which F4 Phantoms shot down any Migs. The 555th was actually the highest kill squadron in the Vietnam Conflict with 36 kills and based on the kill record there were no kills by US Air Force pilots in 1969.

    I have attached the US Air Force Book that details their presence in Southeast Asia and the Air Force Aces and Aerial Victories.

    https://media.defense.gov/2010/Sep/2...100921-010.pdf

    I agree that more research needs to be conducted but I remain skeptical based on what I have read and researched

    best regards

    Smitty

  7. #7

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    I appreciate the feedback.

    I posted some additional material that I found including a close up of the seal as you requested. There is also an additional citation from 1970 that I need to find and upload - it has the same seal etc.

    Most of this paperwork is from 1966 and the 51st fighter wing. Assignment before the 555th?


    This wasn't something sold to me, it was in the closet of the house that I recently bought and the neighbor that lived next to him for 50 years told me all this as well.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    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  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit   Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  


  8. #8

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    additional document.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit  

  9. #9

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    The additional documents certainly indicate Captain Shumake served with the USAF, but none of the new papers link him to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Perhaps the flight suit belonged to someone else, but as Smitty points out the citation is factually in-correct to suggest it is a fake.

  10. #10

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    Well this all sounds a bit odd to me just based on recorded history as I know very little about the uniforms and units of the Vietnam period.

    One thing that seems particularly strange to me is the presence of a British (Queens Crown) Royal Corps of Transport badge (looks big enough to be a cap badge rather than a collar) which in this picture looks like a fake anyway, on the right breast of the Mess Dress jacket (I'm unsure of what the US term is) in post #7. Is this something know in US uniforms?

    Regards

    Mark

    Son Tay Raiders and MIG destroyer flight suit

    Royal Corps of Transport two colour Stabrite
    Last edited by Watchdog; 02-03-2023 at 12:00 PM. Reason: typo
    "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."

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