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Major General Raymond Matera and Brigadier General Donne Harned 1987 Korean War Pilot Interview

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I purchased a tape that had a 40-minute interview with two Korean War Pilots: Major General Raymond Matera and Brigadier General Donne Harned. The short stories below are a condensed version and are a quick outline. Unfortunately, I don’t know whose story is which on the tape. So they’ve been somewhat conflated. The full interview is at the bottom of the page in an MP3 format.

Black 90min cassette tape labeled 1987 Interview MG Matera and BG Harned

They’ve both since passed with Major General Raymond Matera dying in 2019 and Donne Harned dying in 2013.

The Interview was done on Sept 15th, 1987 by someone named Craig who seemed to be a Senior in High School.

In the interview, they talk about flying F80s, F84s, F86s. The F-80 is the Lockheed Shootingstar, The F-84 is the Thunderjet, and the F-86 is the Sabre.

They mention that the first flight in a jet plane was the first flight in a jet plane as no trainers (the T-33s) were available.

They talk about shooting down towed drone aircraft. Recalls a classmate Glen Dean (deen?) shooting down an F47 that was towing a plane and the pilot told him that the next time he does that he’s going to release the plane into his face.

Was assigned to the 81st Fighter Group; 91st Squad which flew F-86s.

A Lt Greenway was killed putting down gears as both wings fell off an F84 airplane because of an internal fire. A quick search indicates it’s likely 1st LT J. Ray Greenway. Who was hit with anti-aircraft fire and crash-landed at Taegu #1 field.

Used the F51b (the WW2 era Mustang) for close air support. Would have two 165-gallon fuel tanks for long-range escort missions. Donne Harned once got lost returning from a mission attacking dams on the Yalu River and eventually figured out he was 60 miles South of Valdisvastock…says “That was a long mission”.

Recall shooting up a power station North of Pyongyang during Pusan Perimitter actions. Both recall hitting trains.

Assigned to the 5th RCT and an unnamed ROK Division as Forward Air Controllers. Maj General Church commander of KMAG Forces supported them and gave them all sorts of radios to keep in contact with the ground.

Recall that the F84e had an oil-mist system (which provides continuous lubrication) and the number 3 bearing would fail.

Most missions air to ground – interdiction missions to cut rail lines.

They really liked the South African and Australian pilots.

Once saw an Australian fighter get shot down and saw the pilot sitting on the wing waiting to be captured. North Koreans sent back his blue and polka dot scarf he was wearing as a sign that he was still alive.

The biggest threat was Soviet anti-aircraft weapons that tracked by radar and Quad 50s. They were always about one burst behind ya.

Recalls Jim Tool(e?) a 49b graduating class shot down at 15,000 feet going 300-400 miles an hour.

All flight commanders during training were WW2 flight veterans. Helped keep us alive by teaching us the tricks.

Got back assigned 133rd Fighter Squadron in New Hampshire. Flew F-47s (the WW2 era Thunderbolt) recalls. it was a very quiet plane. had an enjoyable time flying it. After that flew the F94 (the Starfire) at the All Weather school for a while.

They flew F-89s (the Scorpion) after got back from Korea and flew F-86s too.

F-89s had afterburners (AB). Toggle switches near the canopy to enable the AB.

MB1 Genie Nuclear missiles were kept in Madison, WI as part of the plane’s armament. Not many people knew they had nuclear weapons in Madison. Kept them on pylons. Would have “no notice inspections” and officers would come in and harangue airmen for having dirt on the missiles. The ground crew would often leave smudges on the missiles and give everyone a fit.

Fired MB1s at drones in the Gulf of Mexico (put dynamite in it instead of nuclear warheads). It was a Rocket-propelled missle and “just it went off”.

Make mention that in June 1943 they joined the Marines but wanted to be a pilot. After college went back into the Air Force.

A discussion of the events in Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega as well as the current (1987 current) career path for Guard forces.

The most significant thing to happen to the reserve force was done by Secretary Laird’s “Total Force” Proclamation in 1970. Where the reserve forces also get top-line equipment to get airborne faster.

[Tape has a 10second cut out around 31min mark]

The interview more or less ends with Craig talking about post-high school paths and the possibility of joining the military.

Brigadier General Donne Harned gave another interview to the Madison Public Radio in 2005 as part of a Korean War Stories project which covers some of the details mentioned in the tape a bit more.

If you would like to download the MP3 file you can do so here.

If you need a transcript you can download it here.

With the purchase of the tape came a letter written in Dec 2000 where Craig sent the tape to an interested party named John. He also appears to be a militaria collector as he refers to items for sale. Based on the way the date is written it’s probable he spent considerable time in the military.

Letter written by craig sending the tape to someone named john