Ted was assigned to the 9th Air Force, 354th Fighter Group (they were called the Pioneer Mustangs - the first combat group to receive the Merlin-engined P-51B). Soon after his arrival in England as a freshly trained pilot, on the 4th of July 1944, Ted was flown to a portable airfield designated “A2” near St. Lo France (one month after D-Day) to begin his career as a Fighter Pilot. That day had been chosen as the day for a SECRET mission to fly Gen. Eisenhower over enemy territory and the 354th was selected for the mission. Ted stood 10 feet from the General on the airstrip and thought to himself, “That guy really looks confident, I am sure this adventure is going to turn out well”.
Ted’s Squadron was the 355th. His was a unit that followed the troops as the battle-front moved. Typically their tents and mobile airfield were about 10 miles from the front lines. His unit’s flying missions alternated between Ground Support and Bomber Escort. The 355th used the P-47 for Ground Support and Airdrome Strafing and the P-51 for Escorting and Fighter Sweeps when excellent dogfight maneuverability was needed.
On Ted’s 22nd mission (a massive Fighter Sweep on Aug 25, 1944) he had pulled out of a dive after downing a FW190 and a deafening explosion opened a large hole in his left wing from its underside. With damaged coolant lines the P-51’s engine was overheating and Ted was loosing altitude. After landing wheels-up in a ploughed field Ted headed for the woods and ultimately found the French Underground who hid him in the home of the deu Marque family and their two lovely daughters Jacquelyn and Janette near Fere Faiallel, France (90 km NE of Paris). German soldiers were billeted on the first floor of the home. Two weeks later Ted was liberated as Patton’s army moved forward.
Ted returned to the 355th and flew in the Battle of the Bulge, Ramagen Bridge, Houflize as well as many others. Ted’s personal decorations include the Air Medal with 13 clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and 7 other service ribbons. Ted downed 2 ME109 and 1.5 FW190 aircraft (shared a kill with his wingman). He flew 121 combat missions before being shipped stateside for reassignment.
In the USA Ted was assigned to the new Test Pilot School at Wright Field (OH). Ted joined the 2nd class to be formed and found himself flying with many of the air combat heroes and ACES of WWII. His Pilot skills were used to develop Low Visibility Onboard Aircraft Approach equipment, Ejection Seat development for jet aircraft, Bomb Delivery systems, Propeller development, Landing Gear Development and Air Density Altitude Envelopment development.
He did skywriting and has tales of some famous pilots that are best left to verbal telling. Ted’s flight records show he flew 23 aircraft: including the Mustang, Thunderbolt, King Cobra, Warhawk, Twin Mustang, Lightning, Shooting Star, and Superfortress.
Group of Test Pilots at Wright Field Air Show (c1946). Ted is top row 3rd from right with Don Gentile, top row 2nd from right and Bob Hover is 2nd from left top row. Picture in front of a WWII German Recon jet.
Ted is one of the Greatest Generation this nation will ever know. Ted and I met in 2001 as Docents at the Champlin Fighter Aircraft Museum in Mesa AZ. He is the big brother I never had. He is my Hero and my best friend. Ted has assigned me his “wingman” slot, an honor I humbly cherish. We have flown many “missions” together since 2001.
Ted tells people that his last name (proudly Polish) is pronounced: SCOW …like a boat RON ECK.
2001-2003 - Ted and I were members of the last Docent Class at Doug Champlin’s famous Fighters ONLY hangers at Falcon Field.. We have had some wonderful trips (“flights”) since we served together as Docents at “The Worlds Largest Fighters ONLY Aircraft Museum”.
March 2005 - Edwards AFB (Muroc CA) Ted expressed interest in going back to Muroc to see the changes since 1946-7. I passed the request to John Fergione (Lockheed Martin F/A 22 Experimental Test Pilot) when he came to General Dynamics / Scottsdale for a Presentation (we are subs to LM on F-22 communications). John set up a never-to-be- forgotten 6 hours on base for Ted with meetings with USAF Chief Historian Dr. James Young, Edwards Museum Director Dennis Shoffner with lunch at the Officer’s Club where Ted was introduced to the CO and his wife. Dinner that evening with John was a delight to see these two test pilots compare experiences and technologies spanning 60 years. John is Best of the Best and a credit to his US Navy “Wings of Gold”.
August 2006 - Wright Patterson AFB (Dayton OH) Attended 9th AF Reunion. Met with B-26 Marauder crews. 354th very often escorted these medium bombers. We took a trip to Piqua OH, hometown of Don Gentile, fellow test pilot and friend of Ted’s. Met with a high school chum of Don’s who was also a WWII flyer and they toured Piqua and saw the Gentile home where Ted and Bob Hoover were guests for dinner.
May 2007 - Ted was interviewed for a video documentary at Falcon Field (Mesa AZ) by Jon Teboe. Jon is producing a film honoring the 354th heroes. Francesca was Jon’s beautiful and charming assistant. Through arrangements by our host, Rich Cutsall (the owner) of Anzio Landing Restaurant Ted was treated to a flight in a B-25 Mitchell parked on Anzio’s apron. Rich also arranged for the Explorer Troop that he leads to sit in on Ted’s interview and had the Scouts question Ted at its conclusion.
September 2007 - 354th Fighter Group Reunion (3-days) and the Gathering of Mustangs and Legends (4 days) (Columbus, OH) The Reunion was represented to be the “Last” but was to become the “Last Annual” as a 2008 reunion was constructed on sight. The “Gathering” was magnificent, respectful and exciting. Good Will, Good Spirits and Good Times dominated the largest group of P-51 Mustangs to fly together since WWII.
June 2008 - High Country Warbird Fly-In (Valle – Grand Canyon, AZ) Sponsored by Planes of Fame from Chino CA. This is a low pressure old fashioned barnstormer sort of an outing with no scheduled events just pilots flying aircraft they love. Ted gravitated to the P-51 and spent most of his time talking with her pilots and with the persons in the staging area who had signed up for rides. He was at his best telling his stories about his days in the cockpit. He got invited to the Reno Air Races in September by a pilot who races a P-51 there. We will see.