Service legacy comes full circle in Korea

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Allison Payne
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The United States officially entered the Korean War on June 27, 1950. This was the first armed conflict the newly independent U.S. Air Force engaged in and the first large-scale use of the jet.

October 24, 2021, Lt. Col. Loren “Nike” Coulter, 51st Operations Group deputy commander, followed in his grandfather’s footsteps by flying an A-10 Thunderbolt II back to Osan Air Base from Seoul Air base. Coulter’s grandfather, Robert Coulter, also flew out of Seoul Air Base back during the Korean War.

The A-10, which was flown back by Coulter, was used as a static display at Seoul AB during the duration of the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, an event which attracts aviation aerospace professionals, key defense personnel, aviation enthusiasts and the general public alike.

“I knew this was likely a once in a lifetime experience,” said Coulter. “I was talking to 1st Lt. Kegan “Crush” Thompson about his trip to Seoul AB when I mentioned my grandfather had flown during the Korean War as a U.S. Marine Corps med-evac pilot when stationed in Korea from Dec. 1952 – Nov. 1953. Based on that connection, Lt. Thompson coordinated to have me fly the aircraft home, so I could fly out of the same base my grandfather had flown out of as well.”

Coulter said he is fortunate to have his grandfather’s original logbook from when he served in the Korean War enabling him to witness the details of his day-to-day flights, which included many flights flown out of Seoul AB. Coulter admitted that this tangible proof of his grandfather’s time in service helps him better understand his grandfather’s legacy.

“To be able to fly out of the same location my grandfather had flown from nearly 70 years ago was very special,” said Coulter. “I tried to picture what the Air Base and surrounding area must have looked like when he was there. I looked at some of the surrounding terrain features and understood those were the same features he would have also encountered when flying.”

According to Coulter, flying has been a part of his entire life. In addition to his grandfather being a Marine Corps pilot, his father, Dennis Coulter, was an Air Force pilot and his brother, Nathan Coulter, is a Coast Guard pilot. He said aviation had always been a focal part of their lives growing up, so he naturally gravitated towards it.

“I think my grandfather would be proud of legacy he contributed to,” said Coulter. “Not only the fact that I was able to fly an Air Force aircraft from the same base he did, but more so that the South Koreans have continued to prosper so much since, and that we continue to remain as committed to the same mission that he and those that served in the Korean War originally committed themselves to but now just in a new capacity.”

The A-10 was designed to provide close air support (CAS) to friendly ground troops by providing defense against enemy armored vehicles and tanks. The aircraft was activated in 1976 and is the only production-built model to serve in the USAF, solely designed for CAS. Its secondary mission is to provide forward air controller-airborne support by directing other aircraft in the air to engage with specific ground targets.

“I am proud to be a part of the 51st Fighter Wing mission and proud of our commitment to the Republic of Korea and United States alliance,” said Coulter. “And I’m definitely proud to be third generation to serve in the U.S. military in Korea. To be able to fly out of Seoul AB brings my grandfather’s legacy full-circle in my life.”