North High School Wall of Honor
Edwin Gene Emerling
Class of 1943
(high school grad photo preferred)
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953. PAGE IN PROGRESS
Edwin Gene Emerling

Gene spent a number of years with the 1939 graduating North High School class, but transferred over to Tech High to focus on his love for aviation. He enlisted in the US Army on xxx at xxxx. At the time of his enlistment, he was single with no dependents. His service number was _______. Gene's next of kin is listed as his mother, Alvena Emerling, at 1315 Harding Road, Des Moines, Iowa.

Edwin Gene Emerling
Please place the entries in chronological sequence.
Year   Rank   Status
June, 1943   x   After years at North High, Gene transferred over to Tech High, graduating in June, 1943.
date x Enlisted; Drafted
US Army Air Corps
x Enlisted, drafted where and when? Camp Dodge?
Was it US Army Air Corps or the US Air Force?
date x US Army x Basic Training
date x US Army x text
date x US Army x text
date x US Army x text
date x US Army x text
May, 1946 x date x *Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34L Firebee
April 11, 1957 x Captain x **Roster for start/solo on U-2
April 22, 1957 x Major (4028th) x Reassigned Laughlin N AFB to Davis-Monthan AFB
May 17, 1957 x Captain? (4028th) x

Assigned to Combat Crew

October 18, 1957
x Captain? (4028th) x Appointed Test Pilot
date x Discharged x When and where?
date x Civilian x Living in Tucson, AZ
*Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34L Firebee  Note: This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a secure part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The AQM-34L reconnaissance drone was developed from the BQM-34A jet-powered, subsonic target drone first produced in 1960. It was one of a series of remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) used for combat reconnaissance in Southeast Asia.

The AQM-34L was air-launched and controlled from a DC-130 director aircraft and flown on low-level photographic missions over North Vietnam. After a mission, the RPV was directed to a safe recovery area where its parachute was deployed. The Firebee was then either retrieved in mid-air by helicopter or recovered from land or water.

The RPV on display was damaged by a North Vietnamese surface-to-air missile and landed in the sea of North Vietnam. Recovered by a U.S. Navy ship, it was damaged by salt water beyond economical repair. The AQM-34L's nickname, Mr. Ling, was a pun on the last name of Lt. Col. Edwin G. Emerling, who was involved with the drone's early combat missions.
Engine: Teledyne Continental J-69
of 1,920 lbs. thrust
Maximum Speed: 645 mph
Range: 750 miles
Ceiling: 50,000 feet

**U-2 Pilots receiving awards for their flights over Cuba during the Cuban Crisis.
Cuban Missile Crisis Distinguished Flying Cross Awardees
4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, 4080th Strategic Wing
Presented by General Thoams S. Power (CINCSAC)
The first pilots of the U-2 were those of the Contractor, Lockheed. By ground school and flying in the Groom Lake of Area 51 in Nevada (known then as "Watertown" or "the Ranch"), the Lockheed (LAC) test pilots, along with other relevant contractor personnel, trained an Air Force transition team designated the 4070th Special Activities Squadron.

As Major Delap devised the system of flight planning and navigation as the transition team actively engaged in flying test missions and learned more about the A/C characteristics, they passed them on to the students. The Air Force transition team developed a complete program of ground school and flying that started with several low level flights with the progos attached. During this time, all of the Air Force pilots went to David Clark Company in the norhteast to have partial pressure suits fitted for high altitude flight. The program progressed quite rapidly with the LAC and Air Force team learning more about the airplane through its daily flights. The student pilots followed closely behind, gaining proficiency with each ground school class and their training flights.

The list below is a small gesture towards establishing and maintaining the legacy of those special aviators who silently soloed along the fringes of outer space with their cameras and ELINT equipment to ensure the safety of the free world.
Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. (KIA)
Major Buddy L. Brown
Major Edwin G. Emerling
Major Richard S. Heyser
Major James A. Qualls
Captain George M. Bull
Captain Roger H. Herman
Captain Charles W. Kern
Captain Gerald E. McIlmoyle
Captain Robert L. Primrose
Captain Daniel W. Schmarr

**4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, 4080th Strategic Wing

The 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing’s mission was to conduct strategic reconnaissance operations on a global scale, either independently or in cooperation with other forces, to fulfill requirements for completed reconnaissance reports, target material, and weather data for operational forecasting.

On October 9th of 1962, the 4080th SRW would receive its’ initial orders to prepare for Operation “Brass Knob”, an intensified aerial surveillance of the island of Cuba. With the authority of the President of The United States, the Strategic Air Command would assume this task from the previous tasking of the Central Intelligence Agency. Initially, one flight was approved from south to north over the western end of Cuba, a mission flown by Major Richard S. Heyser on October 14th. Then two more flights were authorized and flown by Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. and Major Heyser on October 15th. The results of the first mission indicated that total coverage of the island was necessary, and on October 17th, four pilots from Laughlin launched into a terrible thunderstorm and joined Heyser and Anderson in an effort which covered 95% of Cuba. By early November, over one million feet of film had been exposed. All eleven pilots had been fired upon with only one combat casualty, Major Anderson. The Wing would receive the personal plaudits and awards from the President for its’ efforts!

The 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was celebrated at Star Park on 23rd May 2008. The unit was formerly stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base and was praised for its work throughout its history, but especially for its work during the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the world on the brink of a possible Nuclear war when Soviet missiles were found in Cuba. These missile's were a major threat to the USA.
All the people who flew, worked, maintained and supported the U-2 planes and operations were recognized at the ceremony, which unveiled a Texas Historical Marker commemorating their work.
The 11 pilots who flew the missions to Cuba from Oct. 14 to 27, 1962 are named on the marker.

Four of the remaining pilots were present at the ceremony. Attending were
Brigadier General Gerald E. McIlmoyle (USAF retired),
Col. Edwin G. Emerling ( USAF retired),
Buddy L. Brown,
Charles W. Kern.
The other 7 pilots who were involved in "Operation Brass Knob" are also listed on the marker and they are, Rudolf Anderson Jr., Richard S. Heyser and James Qualls, George M. Bull, Roger H. Herman, Robert L. Primrose and Daniel W. Schmarr.

(in field)  
photo (in field)
Colonel Edwin G. Emerling
4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron,
4080th Strategic Wing, ___th Air Force?
United States Air Force
USAF seal

4028the Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron

4080 Strategic Wing
Air Force Pilot Wings

Photo of Gene Emerling
in uniform
Distinguished Flying Cross

Distinguished Flying Cross + other medals (need list)
(1) Information was obtained from the Records on Military Personnel Who Died, were Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War as a result of the Vietnam War. This document can be found online at the National Archives and Records Administration at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Edwin Gene Emerling's 1943 class page is:
05/20/10: Currently living in Tucson, AZ.
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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