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Phantom retires after protecting Korea's sky for 55 years

Phantom retires after protecting Korea's sky for 55 years

Posted June. 08, 2024 08:31,   

Updated June. 08, 2024 08:31


On Friday, at the Suwon Air Force Base of the 10th Fighter Wing, an F-4 Phantom retirement ceremony was held. First introduced from the United States in 1969, the F-4 has defended Korea's airspace for 55 years. Up to 190 F-4s were in operation at its peak, but with the retirement of the last three jets at Suwon Base on this day, the "Goblin of the Sky" has now become a part of history.

"Phantom Zero One, you are requested to complete your final mission and return. Phantom Zero One, take off."

Following the order to take off from Korea's Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, two F-4Es roared down the runway for their final flight. Subsequently, gratitude and commendation plaques were awarded to former and current mission personnel, including Lee Jae-woo, a chair professor at Dongguk University (retired Major General), and Lee Jong-ok, a retired Brigadier General, both of whom served respectively as pilot and mechanic when the F-4 was first introduced. When Professor Lee said, "Goodbye to the Goblin of the Sky, F-4 Phantom," the audience applauded.

After the flight, the two F-4Es landed back at the base, and the four pilots, including Major Kim Do-hyung (56th Class of the Air Force Academy, age 40), reported the completion of their mission to Minister Shin and presented the control sticks. This moment they symbolized the end of all missions carried out by the F-4 over the past 55 years. Minister Shin presented 'honorary retirement certificates' to the F-4Es and hung congratulatory wreaths on their noses. He also inscribed the aircraft with the commemorative phrase "Beyond the Legend to the Future!" Following this, veterans who had shared their time with the F-4 and soldiers of the 155th Fighter Squadron at Suwon Base, who had remained with the F-4 until the end, bid their farewells.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com