Major General Frederick C. “Boots” Blesse

I just learned that this past week, Major General Frederick C. “Boots” Blesse has taken his “final flight West.”  I am saddened to hear this…

General Blesse was the Wing Commander of the 474th TFW at Nellis AFB, NV when I was a young 2Lt.  He signed my first 2 OERs (Officer Evaluation Reports) and attended my wedding to Susan.

I didn’t know him well at all, but I respected him as a leader, and as a man of honor.

Godspeed General Blesse…

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9 Responses to Major General Frederick C. “Boots” Blesse

  1. Jim Null says:

    I had to priviledge of flying with Gen. Boots Blesse. In 1970 I had just finished my training at George AFB. CA. to upgrade to the frontseat of the F-4. In case you don’t know, the Air Force at one time would not let graduates out of pilot training go to the frontseat of the F-4. They had to do a tour in the backseat first because they said that the F-4 was too much for someone just out of pilot training to handle (I still believe it was the Air Force’s way of stockpiling pilots for the Viet Nam war….just my view). Of course about a year into my backseat tour we started getting frontseaters right out of pilot training…oh well.

    Anyway, back to my story. I was finished with my training and just hanging around the scheduling desk when the Ops Officier of our training squadron came up and asked….Hey Null…are you doing anything? Answer…no sir I have finished my training. Question: Weren’t you a backseater? Answer: Yes (sir). Question: Would you like to fly with Gen Blesse? (seems the Instructors were having a “Turkey shoot” (gunnery competion for you civilians) and Gen Blesse was going to participate)). Answer: Does a bear do it in the woods? Is the Pope Polish? (applicable then, not now). Of course I would. I had read Blesse’s book “No guts, No glory” and knew he was an ace from Korea, etc. It would be an honor!!
    So to make a long story even longer, we brief, takeoff. I do my backseat thing (reading airspeed and altitudes, calling when to “pickle” (release the bomb for you civilians) during bombing runs, talking the General thru a radar bomb delivery, which consisted of reading off the correct switch setting, telling him when to press the pickle button, etc.
    He “pressed” every delivery, whether it was 30 deg dive bombing or strafing….he pressed it to the max (pressing consists of going beyond to delivery altitudes/parameters…again for you civilians). But his scores were great and lo and behold he wins the “Turkey shoot” against much younger pilots.
    So back in the squadron building, Gen Blesse dicides to give me his philosophy on flying, leadership and a few other topics. I am merrily lapping all this up in a briefing room….just me and Gen Blesse and in dashes the Ops officer who set all this up and says….Null!…did you fly with Gen Blesse?….answer: Yes Sir. Ops Officer to Gen Blesse….O sir I am so sorry, we should have had an instructor with you on the range ride….I am so sorry. Gen Blesse to me and the Ops officer… mean Null isn’t an instructor….I thought he was an instructor…don’t worry about it…now where were we Jim.
    What a great day for me and a really great “real” guy General Blesse was. I will always remember that day and that ride, sorry to hear that he has passed, the world will be the less for it.

    Jim “Snoopy” Null, LTC USAF retired
    P. S. I also had the priviledge of flying with Gen Robby Risner (F-105 POW and Korean Ace) and Gen Robin Olds (WWII ace and probably the first ace in Viet Nam, though he would never admit it….they would have sent him home if he acknowledged that he had five kills…so he didn’t report any more after 4 kills). But those stories are for another day….today we bid farwell to Gen. ‘Boots’ Blesse.

  2. Mark Dankof says:

    General Blesse was my next door neighbor at Hickam AFB in Honolulu when I was in high school. He was a great man and a fine gentleman. My father, Colonel Karl Dankof, passed away in San Antonio 3 1/2 years ago. Colonel Howard Inks of Colorado Springs, the Base Commander at Hickam is also now departed. How I miss these great men. Their passing symbolizes the end of an America that now seems long gone.

    • BETTY BLESSE says:

      Thank you for sharing your story.
      Boots was laid to rest Friday 22 March 2013 at Arlington National Cemetary.
      It was a great tribute to my husband and I know he would have been proud of his Air Force.

      • Cheeta17 says:

        Good Morning Mrs. Blesse,

        I was a young 2nd Lt. when I knew General Blesse. I was in awe of him, but not intimidated by him. He was truly a man of grace and humility – an inspiration to me today!

        I married Susan Mead; the daughter of Bobby and Jeanne Mead. He was a squadron commander at the time.

        God Bless You…

        Bob Holliker

  3. Colonel Houston N. Tuel says:

    Boots was my flight commander in the 94th Squadron at George AFB in 1951. We again flew together at Nellis from 1954 to 1956. In fact, my last flight in an F-86 was with Boots on a night flight from LAX to Nellis in September, 1956. Several months ago I received a letter from him telling me that he was still playing golf three times a week and that his handicap had gone from 2 to 15. I’m 90 now, but just knowing that Boots was still playing golf made me feel younger. Knowing that he’s gone now suddenly makes me feel older. He was a great friend and I’m going to miss him.
    30 minutes later. I just tried to call Ralph Parr to see if he knew what Boots died from
    and was stunned to learn that Ralph died last Friday! He had both cancer and Alzheimers. His wife told me that Boots had died of a heart attack on the golf course.

  4. HRPeterson says:


    Your recollections of all these great American HEROES brings tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. How fortunate you must be to have known such great leaders!

  5. Charles A. Malik says:

    I am very sorry to hear of the General’s passing. For a short time in 1972, I was an aid for the General at Hickam AFB. He was of the highest character, and a great pilot who loved the Air Force and his family. I still think of him with great respect. I left the Air Force in 1974, going back to school to get my bachelors and two masters degrees. Currently I am a licensed mental health counselor in Washington State. I learned things from him that has helped me. Good By General, CAM

  6. Michael Baselice says:

    My step-father’s best friend was Boots. The met at Suntree Golf Club in Melbourne FL, and played over 5,000 rounds of golf together.

    When I would visit, Boots would suggest I try different clubs that he had stored in his garage, and he sold me a driver that I still have.

    I had the honor of meeting him and playing golf with him on several occasions.

    He was an amazing man, and a great American.

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