Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lester Arasmith

By NU Athletic Communications

     Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps/U.S. Air Force

       Rank at Separation: WWII - Captain, Korea - Major, Vietnam - Colonel

       Combat Action: WWII Pacific, Korea, and Vietnam

       Home Town: Lincoln

       Military Specialty: Fighter Pilot and Group Commander

       Unit: 530th Fighter Sqdn, 311th Fighter Group in WWII; 40th & 41st Fighter Interceptor Sqdns, 35th Fighter Grp in Korea, 3rd Combat Support Group, Bien Hoa AB, RVN

       Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - Combat Aviator Wings; United Nations Service, Vietnam Campaign, Republic of Korea War Service, Philippine Liberation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, United Nations Korea Service, Air Force Longevity Service w/ Oak Leaf, Armed Forces Reserve, Small Arms Expert Marksman, National Defense Service w/ Star, Korean Service w/ 4 Stars, Vietnam Service w/ 3 Stars, Asia-Pacific Campaign w/ 3 Stars, WWII victory, Army of Occupation, Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign, Airman Medal, Air Force Commendation w/ Oak Leaf, 2 Air Medals w/ Oak Leaves, Distinguished Flying Cross w/ 2 Oak Leaves



There are numerous articles about Colonel Arasmith in the library and on the Internet. He is a genuine American hero – a fighter pilot in three wars, and a WWII “Ace.” That means he shot down at least five enemy aircraft while engaged in aerial combat. No missiles, no radar “lock” on the enemy aircraft…this was Dog Fighting. He had to see the other guy who had to see him. Then, the two dueled…not with pistols at ten paces, but with high-powered, .50-caliber machine guns at 50 meters – or less…so close, each risked flying into the debris of the very plane that he had just shot to pieces. It was an eyeball-to-eyeball, triple-axis, aerial two-step…Immelmann Turn and Hammerhead Stall – dive, climb, loop, and roll. Once the two engaged, only one would “live in fame.” The other would “go down in flame.” In his first five months of aerial combat in the skies over Burma and China, Lieutenant Arasmith painted six Japanese “Zeke” silhouettes under the canopy of his P-51 Mustang, and he wasn’t even old enough to drink…legally.

Les Arasmith was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps and awarded his pilot wings on December 5, 1943. He joined the 530th Fighter Squadron of the 311th Fighter Group in Burma (and later in China) in August 1944. Lt. Arasmith was credited with the destruction of 6 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus one damaged. He is one of only two Nebraskans to achieve Aerial Combat “Ace” status. In January of 1947, he left active duty and joined the reserves. Captain Arasmith returned to active duty with the newly formed U.S. Air Force, later that same year, and in July 1950, he deployed to Korea, where he flew P-51 Mustangs and F-80 Shooting Stars with the 40th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) and then the 41st FIS of the 35th Fighter Group. Major Arasmith next flew F-86 Sabre Jets with the 94th FIS at George AFB, California, from June 1951 to January 1955. Colonel Arasmith served as Commander of the 327th Combat Support Squadron and the Base Commander of Truax Field, Wisconsin, from August 1963 to July 1966. In 1968, he deployed to Southeast Asia, where he served as commander of the 3rd Combat Support Group at Bien Hoa AB, RVN from May 1968 to March 1969. After Viet Nam, Col. Arasmith returned to Ent AFB and retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1969.

After retiring from the Air Force, Les received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado. Professor Arasmith served on both the faculties at the University of Nebraska – Omaha and Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his wife, Nadine, returned to Lincoln in 1990 to be near their family.


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