By Cheng Libing and Fan Chen
Han Decai was the deputy commander of the air force of the former PLA Nanjing Military Region. Joining the army at 16, he was admitted as a flying cadet at 18, and rushed to the battlefield to resist US aggression and aid Korea at 19. In the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, he shot down five enemy aircraft on the battlefield, won Merit Citation Class I twice, and was awarded the honorary title of “Class II Combat Hero” by the PLA Air Force.
“The Korean War was extremely cruel, and it’s a real struggle to realize the peace development at present”, said Han Decai when picking up the model airplane at hand and telling the story about making friends with an American pilot who used to be the enemy.
On April 7, 1953, when wingman Han Decai followed the leader in the sky, his fuel warning lighted up, and Han was ready to return after asking for instructions. Suddenly, from the tower came a rapid call: “Pull up, pull up, the enemy fires at you!”
Ever as they were calling, Han noticed the leader burst into white smoke. “The engine got hit!” he judged. At the critical moment, Han immediately pulled the joystick in a dogfought with the American pilot in the air, in order to cover the leader to escape. However, he could not deal with the well-prepared enemy for a long time as his fighter was to run out of fuel.
In a flash of inspiration, Han took a few rolls, making full use of the MiG-15’s advantages of small turning radius and good maneuverability, and quickly took the dominant position. With no hesitation, he fired fiercely at the enemy aircraft and hit its fuel tank at the tail.
The American pilot was forced to parachute and then captured by the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV). With little fuel left, Han Decai flew his wingman back home. The engine suddenly stopped the moment the plane entered the runway.
Many years later, Han Decai still couldn’t restrain his inner excitement when recalling the situation at that moment. “At that time, I felt that I had to shoot the enemy aircraft down. What’s thrilling was that the fuel was to run out, and if ten seconds later, I couldn’t be able to land. But at that time, I have no time to be afraid at all.”
Han Decai later learned that the pilot forced to parachute in the fight was Colonel Harold E. Fischer, a US Air Force double ace who had carried out 70 air combat missions on the Korean battlefield.
On October 18, 1997, Fischer and Han Decai met again in Shanghai, China. Fischer saluted and hugged Han Decai, his former opponent, and gave Han an F-86 Sabre fighter model which was made by his father and had been emplaced on his desk for more than 40 years.In return, Han gave him a piece of Chinese calligraphy work written by himself which read, “Look into the future.”
“Soldiers understand the meaning of peace best, and thanks to the present peaceful development, we can get reunited. I hope that the peace will last forever,” Han said.