Ralph K. Hofer

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Ralph K. Hofer
Nickname(s) "The Kidd"
Born (1921-06-22)June 22, 1921
Salem, Missouri
Died July 2, 1944(1944-07-02) (aged 23)
Mostar, Yugoslavia
Service/branch Royal Canadian Air Force (1941-1943)
United States Army Air Forces (1943-1944)
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross (United States) (7)

Lt. Ralph K Hofer (22 June 1921– 2 July 1944) was an American fighter pilot with the United States Army Air Forces in World War II.

With his long hair and football jersey, "Kid" Hofer stands out as one of the most memorable characters in the 8th Air Force. After serving in the RCAF, Hofer transferred to the 4th Fighter Group in September 1943 and promptly destroyed an Bf 109 on his first mission. Hofer was known for not maintaining radio discipline, incurred the wrath of group commander Col. Don Blakeslee on more than one occasion. One of his more memorable R/T quotes was "Gee ain't the Alps pretty?" Hofer was also one of the top strafers in the 8th AF with 14 confirmed enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground. He scored his first two victories in P-47s but is usually associated with P-51B 42-106924 QP—L, nicknamed Salem Representative.

Death

On July 2, 1944 the 352nd and 325th fighter groups participated in a fighter sweep over Budapest, Hungary, flying from bases in Foggia, Italy.[1] Over the Budapest area, they encountered a force of Bf 109s. In the tough battle that followed four P-51s were shot down.[2] Of the four downed pilots, two were made prisoners of war, and two were killed. The last was Hofer. His body was found in the wreckage of P-51B, QP-X some 500 kilometers away at a Luftwaffe airfield in Mostar, Yugoslavia. Hofer is buried in a mass grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

Decorations

Among Hofer's decorations are the Distinguished Flying Cross (United States) with six oak leaf clusters and 3 Air Medals.[3]

Notes

  1. Scutts, p32
  2. Scutts, p33
  3. Hess, p.101.

References

External links