Roy M. "Butch" Voris
First Leader of The Blue Angels
By Stephen Sherman, June, 1999. Updated July 4, 2011.
A native of California, Captain Roy Voris graduated from Salinas Junior College in 1939. Born on , he entered the U.S. Navy in 1941 and by February 1942, he was commissioned an ensign and designated a naval aviator.
During his first deployment in World War II, Captain Voris flew the Grumman F4F "Wildcat" from the aircraft carrier Enterprise. In his following cruise, he flew Grumman F6F "Hellcats" from Guadalcanal in support of the First Marines and from the carriers Enterprise and Hornet.
During his air battles in the Pacific, he earned "fighter ace" status recording eight fighter to fighter confirmed kills. Captain Voris commanded Fighter Squadron 113, Fighter Squadron 191, and Attack Carrier Air Group 5.
Captain Voris superb combat skills, resulted in his selection by Admiral Arthur W. Radford and Commander "Butch" O'Hare, as one of four fighter pilots to conduct experimental night fighter operations to intercept and destroy enemy bombers attacking U.S. landing forces at Tarawa.
He earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, three Presidential Unit Citations, and the Purple Heart. He participated in numerous fighter sweeps against enemy airfields and other enemy installations as the Navy advanced through the Pacific. After World War II, Captain Voris was assigned to the Advanced Training Command at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.
In 1946, the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations directed the establishment of a Navy flight exhibition team to demonstrate precision fighter maneuvers at Navy air shows and at public events. Captain Voris was selected as Officer-in-Charge and Flight Leader of this precision flying team. In forming the Navy Flight Exhibition Team, Captain Voris selected his aircraft, pilots and maintenance personnel from the Navy's best officers and Sailors. The Grumman F6F "Hellcat" was selected because of its outstanding flight characteristics. Captain Voris directed modifications to the Hellcat to reduce the aircraft weight and implemented a new paint scheme with traditional Navy colors - blue and gold. Approved by Captain Voris' chain of command, the team flew its first air show at the Southeastern Air Exposition at Craig Airfield, Jacksonville, Florida. The Blue Angels first public performance earned the team its first trophy. That trophy sits in a place of honor at the current home of the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Florida.
In his first tour with the Blue Angels, Captain Voris flew the F6F "Hellcat" and the F8F "Bearcat." In 1951, Captain Voris returned to reform and lead the team flying the F9F "Panther" jet.
After Captain Voris retired from the Navy in 1963, he worked for the Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York, for the next 10 years. In 1973, he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the Office of Industry Affairs.
In 1985, Captain Voris retired from civilian employment to Monterey, California, with his wife, Thea; they have been married 53 years. In 1993, he was honored by the Air Force in a "Gathering of Eagles" ceremony as one of 20 aviators internationally who had made significant contributions to the world of aviation.
Butch Voris was inducted into the International Air show Hall of Fame late last year. He is being inducted into the Navy Aviation Hall of Fame in Pensacola in May, 2002. Others being inducted this year are Admiral Ernest King and Kenneth Walsh.
Given the world wide fame of the Blue Angels, Butch Voris deserves mention on this website. Rob Wilcox (Wings of Fury, Scream of Eagles, Black Aces High) wrote a book on Butch's life in 2003.
Hellcat Aces of World War 2, by Barrett Tillman
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces #10. Grumman's successor to the pugnacious Wildcat, the Hellcat claimed over 5000 kills in the Pacific.
Good chronological summary of the Hellcat. Featuring stories by 'Wendy' Wendorf, Alex Vraciu, Paul Drury, and a wartime history of VF-19. There's a great photo of the pilots of VF-2 taken aboard Hornet in 1944. This volume includes color plates of Hellcats, original photos, and a table of top Hellcat aces, showing the pilot, his squadron, kills, and comments such as "5 on 24/10/44." There's also a table of the Top 25 Hellcat units of WWII.