"Aces of The Eighth" by Jack Fellows

World War II Photos of George Welch

Capt George S. Welch made history as one of only a handful of 14 American pilots that managed to get airborne during the attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December 1941.  Four lost their lives to the overwhelming odds.  As a 2nd Lt at the time, he was credited with 4 of the 10 enemy fighters shot down that day “that will live in infamy.”  Both Welch and his close friend 2nd Lt Kenneth Taylor (2 Kills that day), who was with Welch driving out to their P-40’s, and who’s exploits were glamorized in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor,”  were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Welch became one of the top Pacific Aces with 16 kills.  As a civilian test pilot after the War, he made the first flight of the XP-86 Sabre in 1947.  In 1953 the first YF-100A (52-5754) was completed. It was moved from the Los Angeles factory out to Edwards AFB.  Company test pilot George S. “Wheaties” Welch made the maiden flight on May 25, 1953.  He was killed in 1954 testing the F-100 Super Sabre.


  1. I had heard many years ago that Welch was put in for the Medal of Honor by his family, but it was disapproved because “he took off without proper clearance….!” Can you imagine? In the middle of the attack on Pearl Harbor by 353 enemy planes (I think that number is correct), his airfield being bombed and strafed in total ciaos, I can just see him sitting in the cockpit asking for clearance to takeoff….FROM WHO??!! PC is alive and well. The others who received the MH that day–I wonder if they all received clearance before jumping on a grenade or manning an AAA gun.

  2. George Welch and Ken Taylor earned their kills as members of the 47th Pursuit Squadron (now the 47th FS assigned to my 917 th Fighter Group at Barksdale). In July we are deploying to Hickam to participate in the RIMPAC Exercise and will commemorate the achievements of Welch and Taylor with a party on the USS Missouri on 21 July! Come join us…

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