Van E Chandler

Table of Contents

Van E. Chandler

Born on March 5, 1925, in Kemp, Texas, Van Edgar Chandler was a highly accomplished United States Air Force colonel and a distinguished flying ace. During World War II, he earned acclaim for his exceptional combat skills, being credited with the destruction of five enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Remarkably, he achieved this feat at a young age, becoming the youngest flying ace in the United States Armed Forces.

Chandler’s illustrious career extended beyond World War II, as he flew missions in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He continued to serve with dedication and valor until his retirement from the Air Force in 1974, achieving the rank of colonel. Van Edgar Chandler​

Van Edgar Chandler

Date Of Birth

Birth of Place

Country

Died

Death of Place

Commands Held

Rank

Allegiance

Service/branch

Years of service

 March 5, 1925

Kemp, Texas, U.S.

U.S [3]

 March 11, 1998

Greeley, Colorado, U.S.

22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron

Colonel

United States

United States Air Force

1943–1974

Career - Van Edgar Chandler

Military Career

In February 1943, he attempted to enlist in the United States Army Air Forces but was initially turned away due to his youth. However, in March 1943, he was granted permission to enlist and officially began his active duty service. His dedication and commitment to his military career paid off, as in January 1944, he successfully earned his wings and received a commission as a second lieutenant.

Unit

 4th Fighter Group
51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
31st Tactical Fighter Wing

Battles / Wars

World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Awards

 Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (13)

World War II

In June 1944, Chandler was assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group, serving in the European Theater of Operations. Stationed at RAF Debden, he piloted North American P-51 Mustangs during combat missions. Just one week after his arrival in England, Chandler’s P-51 encountered a malfunction, forcing him to bail out over Germany. He managed to escape and found refuge with a Belgian family, eventually being rescued by the British Army.

Upon his return to his unit, Chandler achieved his first aerial victory on September 12 when he shot down a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 over Wiesbaden, Germany. His second aerial victory followed on November 6. On Christmas Day in 1944, he successfully downed a Fw 190 and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Koblenz. Chandler attained flying ace status on New Year’s Day in 1945 when he shot down a Bf 109 over Uelzen, accomplishing this remarkable feat at the age of 19 and earning the distinction of being the youngest pilot in the United States Armed Forces to achieve such status. On January 29, 1945, he was appointed as the Assistant Operations and Gunnery Officer for the 336th Fighter Squadron.

Throughout his service in World War II, Chandler was credited with the destruction of five enemy aircraft in aerial combat and an additional four while strafing enemy airfields. While with the 4th Fighter Group, he flew P-51s proudly bearing the name “Wheezy.”

Cold War

Following the conclusion of World War II, Chandler’s assignments included the 76th Fighter Squadron in Guam. In December 1948, he transitioned to the 61st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.

In September 1951, Chandler was promoted to the rank of major, and later that year, in December, he received orders to join the 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Suwon Air Base in South Korea during the Korean War. Throughout the conflict, he was credited with shooting down three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s while piloting the F-86 Sabre, bringing his total aerial victories to eight.

Upon his return from Korea, Chandler served with the Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado and held the role of Lockheed F-104 Starfighter project officer at Edwards Air Force Base in California from 1952 to 1956. In March 1958, he pursued further education at the Royal Air Force Staff College in London, England. In the same year, he assumed command of the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg Air Base in West Germany. His career continued with an assignment to the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in 1961. Then, in August 1967, he was appointed to the headquarters of the United States Air Force, stationed at the Pentagon.

From August 1968 to August 1969, Chandler attended the Air War College. Subsequently, he was appointed as the Deputy Commander for Operations of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, where he flew missions using the North American F-100 Super Sabre. He continued these duties until August 1970.

His final posting took place at Duluth International Airport in Minnesota, where he assumed the position of Deputy for Operations for the 23rd NORAD Continental Air Defense Region. Chandler served in this role until his retirement from the Air Force in August 1974.

Personal Life

Van Edgar Chandler was born in Kemp, Texas, on March 5, 1925. He was married to Mary Elizabeth, formerly known as Mary Elizabeth Weber, and together they were blessed with a daughter and three grandchildren.

Following his distinguished career in the Air Force, Chandler and his family relocated to Greeley, Colorado. He pursued further education and earned a degree in business from the University of Northern Colorado.

Tragically, Chandler passed away from cancer on March 11, 1998, at the age of 73. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes were scattered over the Pawnee Buttes.

Awards And Decorations

– U.S. Air Force Command Pilot Badge
– Legion of Merit with bronze oak leaf cluster
– Distinguished Flying Cross with two bronze oak leaf clusters
– Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster
– Air Medal with two silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters
– Joint Service Commendation Medal
– Army Commendation Medal
– American Campaign Medal with three bronze stars
– European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze campaign stars
– World War II Victory Medal
– National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
– Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars
– Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars
– Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters
– Armed Forces Reserve Medal
– Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
– United Nations Service Medal for Korea
– Vietnam Campaign Medal
– Korean War Service Medal (Note: This list represents the honors and awards received by the individual.)

Credits

Date # Type Location Aircraft Flown Unit Assigned
September 12, 1944 1 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Wiesbaden, Germany P-51B Mustang 336 FS, 4 FG
November 6, 1944 1 Fw 190 Minden, Germany P-51D Mustang 336 FS, 4 FG
December 25, 1944 1 Messerschmitt Bf 109 Koblenz, Germany P-51D Mustang 336 FS, 4 FG
December 25, 1944 1 Fw 190 Koblenz, Germany P-51D Mustang 336 FS, 4 FG
January 1, 1945 1 Bf 109 Uelzen, Germany P-51D Mustang 336 FS, 4 FG
January 6, 1952 1 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 North Korea F-86 Sabre 25 FIS, 51 FIW
February 20, 1952 1 MiG-15 North Korea F-86 Sabre 25 FIS, 51 FIW
February 27, 1952 1 MiG-15 North Korea F-86 Sabre 25 FIS, 51 FIW

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