Col. Glenn T. Eagleston
354th FG Ace - 18½ Aerial Victories in WWII
By Stephen Sherman, Dec. 2002. Updated July 6, 2011.
Aces who have mastered the challenges of combat flying in two different wars, those who have succeeded in both piston and jet engine aircraft, deserve special mention in the pantheon of great aviators. Glenn Eagleston was such a pilot, flying Mustangs in WWII and F-86 Sabre jets in Korea.
He was born in Utah on , and joined the US Army Air Corps as an enlisted man in 1940. He became an aviation cadet in 1942, graduating at Luke Field in September. After a brief stint with the 20th Fighter Group, he transferred to the 354th and moved with that Group to England in October 1943.
354th Fighter Group
The 354th Fighter Group, dubbed "Pioneers," started flying P-51B's over France in December, 1943. Originally part of the Ninth Air Force, the 354th was loaned to the Eighth for bomber escort duty. They received their Merlin-powered P-51B's in November, along with the formidable Don Blakeslee as a temporary CO. Blakeslee led the 354th on several missions and drove the pilots hard; he insisted that they engage the German fighters and maintain a collision course, in a deadly game of aerial "chicken," counting on the Germans to break off first. The 354th flew through the bad winter weather of 1943-44, typically dividing its three squadrons into four color-coded flights of four planes each.
Among the outstanding pilots of the 354th that winter were Glenn Eagleston and Jim Howard. On January 5, 1944, the 354th was covering bomber withdrawal from Kiel when they engaged a gaggle of Luftwaffe fighters. Flying at 23,000 feet, Eagleston caught an Fw 190 with a short burst, at 45 degrees of deflection. The e/a dove away steeply and Eagleston pursued. Both planes accelerated rapidly; the the German went into a violent, unrecoverable spin. Crashing into the ground, the Focke Wulf became Eagleston's first victory - which he might not even have hit with his machine gun fire. On the Kiel mission of Jan. 5, the Group claimed 18 enemy aircraft.
The 354th resumed its original tactical role in Spring 1944, in preparation for D-Day. In mid-June, the Group moved to Cricqueville, an advanced base in Normandy and simultaneously returned to the Ninth Air Force command. By this time Eagleston had 8½ kills and had been promoted to Captain. Finishing his first combat, he was out of action for the summer. He returned to active duty in the fall; his biggest day was October 29, when he destroyed three Messerschmitts in a half hour dogfight.
Read more about Mustang Aces of the Ninth and Fifteenth Air Forces in this excellent book in Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces series.
After WW2, he served again in Korea, where he flew 84 missions and commanded the Fourth Fighter Group. He destroyed two MiG-15's. On December 22, 1950, he downed a MiG 15 over the Yalu, one of the earliest Sabre vs. MiG kills. On April 22, 1951, a day of very heavy aerial combat (Jabara claimed four), Eagleston shot down his second MiG. It was his last aerial victory, in a fighter pilot career that had spanned ten years, two aircraft types, and two continents.
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