Test, combat, and air show pilot for the United States Air Force. He served in both World War II and the Korean War, winning numerous military honors.
After his plane was shot down by the Germans in 1944, he spent nearly a year and a half in a Nazi prison camp.
His military decorations include the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Croix de Guerre.
He grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked at a grocery store to fund his flight lessons.
He was an acquaintance of fellow aviation great Charles Lindbergh.