Air Force Veteran Vermont Garrison is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Vermont Garrison was born in Mount Victory, Kentucky, in October 1915. Garrison attended Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College and Sue Bennett Teaching College, where he received his teaching certificate. He taught in elementary schools between 1936 and 1941. He enlisted in the United States’ Aviation Cadet Program in March 1941 before transferring to the British Royal Air Force and finishing his training at El Centro, California. The United States had not officially entered World War II at this time, but Garrison was eager to enter the fight, even by joining another country’s military. By February 1943, Garrison had achieved the status of a flying ace.
Garrison returned to the U.S. military in July 1943 and was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group, flying a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft over Europe. During World War II, Garrison was credited with downing seven enemy aircraft. In March 1944, Garrison was shot down over northern France and captured by enemy forces. After multiple weeks of interrogation by German forces, he was transferred to a prisoner of war (POW) camp, called Stalag Luft I, near Barth, Germany, until Soviet forces rescued him in May 1945 at the close of the war.
Garrison stayed in the military after World War II ended, being part of the Army of Occupation in Europe. He was sent to Japan in 1951 and eventually Korea in 1952 to fight in the Korean War. He earned his status as a flying ace in 1953 while in Korea by shooting down 10 enemy aircraft over a five-month period.
In June 1953, Garrison, flying an F-86 fighter aircraft and leading four others, intercepted 10 enemy MIG-15 fighter aircraft. He attacked the lead enemy aircraft, allowing the other F-86s to attack. Garrison quickly destroyed the lead enemy aircraft and immediately began pursuit of a second enemy aircraft. His quick thinking and actions helped save his and his squad’s lives against a larger enemy force.
During the Vietnam War, Garrison again piloted fighter aircraft against enemy forces. He was vice wing commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing from 1966 to 1967. While with this unit, he flew an F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft and 97 combat missions. He then served as commanding officer of the 408th Fighter Group at Kingsley Field in Oregon from 1967 to 1968. Until 1969, Garrison served as vice wing commander of the 26th Air Division at Adair Air Force Station in Oregon.
In addition to a Distinguished Service Cross, Garrison received various other medals and awards over his military career, including an Air Medal with two silver Oak Leaf Clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross with six Oak Leaf Clusters, a Purple Heart and a Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster. Garrison died in February 1994 at the age of 78 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Jack Patterson
Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton
Researcher: Kennady Hertz, David Charles Deprez
Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley