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Major General John Borling - Gulf War

John Borling graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1963, and completed flight training as a fighter pilot in 1964. By 1965 he was flying combat missions in an F-4 Phantom over North Vietnam, and on his 97th mission was shot down in June, 1966. Borling spent the next six and a half years as a POW. After his release, he had a long and distinguished career, including serving as a White House Fellow in the Gerald Ford administration, command of the famed 'Hat in the Ring' Squadron, several higher level commands, and tours at the Pentagon, in Germany, Belgium, the Strategic Air Command and his final assignment in Norway as the Chief of Staff of Allied Forces-North. This interview was done in collaboration with the Pritzker Military Library.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

Man on the Moon

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early years, Air Force Academy and flight training

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Air combat experiences over North Vietnam in 1965-1966

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Early POW years in North Vietnam

Interview Session 04 (Audio)

Later POW years in North Vietnam – Hanoi Hilton

Interview Session 05 (Audio)

Running for U.S. Senate from Illinois and political offices in the 2000s

Interview Session 06 (Audio)

Release from prison in 1973, flight retraining and White House Fellow

Interview Session 07 (Audio)

Staff College and assignment in ‘Hat in the Ring’ Squadron

Interview Session 08 (Audio)

Command of ‘Hat in the Ring’ Squadron and National War College

Interview Session 09 (Audio)

Pentagon tour as Chief of Checkmate Group and Cmdr, 86th Fighter Group in Ramstein, Germany

Interview Session 10 (Audio)

Command of 57th Air Division, Strategic Air Command

Interview Session 11 (Audio)

End of the Cold War and experiences during the First Gulf War, 1990-91

Interview Session 12 (Audio)

Tour with Allied Forces-North (AFNORTH) in Norway

Interview Session 13 (Audio)

Photos

Caption

John and Myrna Borling on the day John graduated from pilot training at Laredo Air Force Base in 1964.

Where:

Laredo Air Force Base

When:

1964

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Lieutenant John Borling receives his first Air Medal from Colonel Jim Covington, Vice Commander, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, in early 1966 for combat missions over North Vietnam from Ubon Air Base Thailand.

Where:

Thailand

When:

Early 1966

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

Members of the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Borling’s unit while he was stationed at Bar, Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in 1966.

Where:

Thailand,

When:

1966

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

The Hoa Lò Prison, known to American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton, as it appeared while John Borling and other American POWs were imprisoned there during the Vietnam War.

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

This is the tap code matrix that prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton used to pass messages through the walls while they endured solitary confinement. Borling used this same code to pass along his poetry.

Where:

Vietnam

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

John Borling and Darrell Pyle were reunited once again following their release while at the Clark Air Base hospital in the Philippines. The two shared a tiny cell in the Hanoi Hilton for three and a half years.

Where:

Philippines.

When:

February, 1973

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

CPT Borling received a welcome home kiss from daughter Lauren following his release from the Hanoi Hilton in Feb, 1973 after six and a half years of captivity. John’s wife Myrna looks on as they celebrate their reunion at Scott Air Base in Illinois.

Where:

Scott Air Base in Illinois

When:

Feb, 1973

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption

John Borling, after six and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton, finally was able to walk his daughter Lauren to school for the first time in 1973.

Where:

Illinois

When:

1973

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Shortly after Captain Borling returned to the United States, he made frequent public appearances in 1973 until his wife Myrna helped him get back to his real career in the Air Force.

Where:

Unknown

When:

1973

Ownership:

May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator.

Caption

Shortly after CPT Borling returned to the U.S. in 1973, he made frequent public appearances. His wife Myrna then encouraged him to get back to his real career in the Air Force.

Where:

Randolph AFB, Texas

When:

Summer of 1973

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Major General Borling’s official photograph used during his tenure as chief of staff, Headquarters Allied Forces North Europe, at Stavanger, Norway.

Where:

Stavanger, Norway

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Major General Borling, call sign ‘Viking’, straps on his favorite fighter, the F-15 (Eagle), while at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in 1991.

Where:

Luke Air Force Base, Arizona

When:

1991

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.)

Caption

General Borling proudly wears an orange flight suit in his back yard overlooking the Rock River in Rockford, Illinois, circa early 2010s.

Where:

Rockford, Illinois

When:

Early 2010s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Myrna and John Borling relax in their back yard, which overlooks the Rock River in Rockford, Illinois, circa early 2010s.

Where:

Rockford, Illinois

When:

Circa early 2010s

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

A display of the medals that General Borling received during his thirty-three years in the Air Force.

Where:

Rockford, Illinois

When:

2015

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo



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