Ernie Wakehouse

First Lieutenant, Ernest, “Ernie” Wakehouse joined the Army Air Corp in 1942, and received his wings in December of 1944, class 44J. He flew P-40s and P-51s in World War II, but could claim his greatest accomplishments during the Korean War. After World War II, Wakehouse left the Army Air Corp in 1945, and joined the Air National Guard in 1948 where he flew Mustangs in the 123rd Fighter Squadron, Portland, Oregon.  However, he was called back to the service in 1951. 

Wakehouse flew 100 missions in F-51s, but on a particular flight November 18th, 1951, he distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in a serial flight.  He led his flight in a series of devastating attacks using napalm rockets and machine guns on enemy troops, troop bunkers, and supplies near Songdong-ni, Korea. Despite the poor visibility and opposition, Wakehouse pressed the attacks onward, and left the area only after all ordinances had been expended. Lt. Wakehouse returned his flight home safely.

Those attacks resulted in forty enemy troops killed personally by Wakehouse, sixty others by the remainder of the flight, and numerous destroyed enemy bunkers, thus hampering the enemy’s operations in the area.  Wakehouse was given the Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courageous efforts.
It is also recognized that Wakehouse was one of the pilots of the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing flying F-51 Mustangs that didn’t receive deserved glory for the dangerous jobs accomplished during the Korean War.  These pilots carried the responsibility of supporting UN soldiers by cutting off enemy supply. On a particular mission on October 25th, Wakehouse, led by Captain John Taylor, went on a pre-briefed mission to an enemy supply and bivouac area near Pyonggang, North Korea. This flight, “accounted for the destruction of four enemy vehicles, three large secondary explosions, and the destruction of the entire supply and bivoauc area.”  Every member of the flight was recommended for award for their persistence in the face of intense enemy fire.

Ernest Wakehouse left the Air Force in 1952, and spent forty-one years as a new auto dealer in Portland.  He owned and operated Lear Jets for fifteen years, and is still flying a Bonanza at least once a week. He has two sons, two granddaughters, and four great-grandsons.