Vermont Garrison was a career officer in the United States Air Force, and an ace with 17.33 credited victories in aerial combat. He was one of only seven Americans to achieve ace status during World War II, in 1966, Garrison participated in his third war, as vice commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, and flew a full tour of bombing and fighter missions over North Vietnam. For this and his renown as an expert, Garrison was known in the service as The Gray Eagle. U. S. Air Force historian and author Walter J. Boyne described Garrison as a combat unit leader. Col. Robin Olds, commanding the 8th TFW in Thailand, said of his commander, Of the many hundreds Ive served with, Garry was one of the greatest—as pilot, as gentleman, as officer. Garrison was born on a farm near the hamlet of Mt. Victory, in Pulaski County, Kentucky. He was a younger half-brother to his fathers first child and the oldest of five sons, while he grew up farming and timbering to help his family subsist, he also completed a basic education despite the Great Depression. He taught elementary school in one-room schools between 1936 and 1941, following his return from World War II, Garrison was married to Reatha Mae Cuthbert of London, Kentucky, until her death in July 1959. Garrison remarried in August 1961 at Mountain Home, Idaho, to Marie E. Lee, the couple resided in Idaho after his 1973 retirement and raised three daughters and a son. Garrison died of an attack on February 14,1994. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery with his wives, Garrison promptly enlisted in the Royal Air Force at Dallas, Texas and completed flight training at El Centro, California. On July 13,1943, Garrison transferred from the RAF to the United States Army Air Forces, receiving a commission as a first lieutenant. On September 26, after training in the P-47 Thunderbolt at RAF Atcham, he was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group, based at RAF Debden. Garrisons first combat came on October 4,1943. The 4th Fighter Group was assigned to support a force of 3rd Bomb Division B-17s on its withdrawal after bombing Frankfurt am Main. It proceeded to the rendezvous-point at Eupen, Belgium, but could find no bombers, remained in the vicinity for 16 minutes, Garrison recorded his first combat victory returning from a bomber withdrawal support mission to Bremen on December 16,1943. In exceptionally bad weather conditions, he shared credit for shooting down a Junkers Ju 88 fighter over the German-Dutch border with Don Gentile. A month later, on January 14,1944, he downed two Focke Wulf Fw 190s, although his report for the second kill credited half to Norley
Vermont Garrison in Korea, 1953
P-47 Thunderbolt in 1943 livery.
North American F-86F Sabres of the 335th FIS "Chiefs" over Korea.