'Ginny' to return to 50th Space Wing
by Staff Sgt. Stacy D. Foster
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
5/6/2008 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Attention to detail is engrained in the minds of Airmen very early in their careers. It's something they take with them as they progress through the ranks, and keep throughout their lives.
For retired Brig. Gen. Clifton "Tip" Clark, the lesson of attention to detail has come full circle, and led him back to the 50th Space Wing, which he once commanded, when it was the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hahn Air Base, Germany.
May 14, General Clark will present a model of the 50th TFW's flagship aircraft, an F-16C, named "Ginny", to the 50th SW's Heritage Hall. This display honors the contributions made by the 50th Fighter Group to the allied victory in World War II.
This presentation has been a long time coming for General Clark, but he said this isn't for himself.
"I'm doing this project to put some fidelity to the history of the wing and, most importantly, to recognize the hard work, dedication and commitment of all those who served the 50th," General Clark said.
General Clark searched far and wide for the model, which he finally located, here at Schriever.
"My original plan was to retrieve the model, repair and restore it, and place it in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum," he said. "But after discussing the plan with Colonel Djuric, and finding out the 50th Space Wing had a museum, we agreed to place it there - which, in retrospect, is the proper home for the display."
General Clark said the model was inspired by the original P-47 'Ginny', flown by 2nd Lt. Gilbert Burns during World War II.
After General Clark was given command of the 50th TFW, the wing converted from F-16As to F-16Cs. He then requested aircraft tail number 84-1250 to be delivered to Hahn Air Base, Germany, the home of the 50th TFW.
"The reason was that we wanted the tail number ending in 50 to be the 'flag ship' of the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing," he said.
About the same time, General Charles Donnelly, Commander In Chief, United States Air Forces in Europe, offered all of the flying wing commanders under his command, the opportunity to paint 'nose art' from aircraft flown in World War II to be painted on each respective wing commander's aircraft.
Shortly after the aircraft arrived at Hahn and the 'nose art' was painted on, an artist named John Clark was sent to Hahn to document an aspect of the mission through a painting.
"While driving him around he noticed 'my' F-16 with the nose art and squadron colors on it," General Clark said. "He asked if he could make that his painting, and of course, I agreed."
When the artist returned to Washington D.C., his painting, along with 300 other works of art were judged for consideration to become one of only 13 official Air Force lithographs.
"To make a long story short, his painting was selected as one of the 13, a true honor and accomplishment," General Clark said.
The 50th TFW inactivated at Hahn on Sept. 30, 1991, and became the 50th SW Jan. 30, 1992.
"Several bases have closed in Europe, but I see that as a victory, because we accomplished our mission - to bring down the Berlin Wall and to defeat the threat of the Soviet Union. I hasten to add, we were only a small part of that mission, although it was a very important part," General Clark said.
"I want to thank each and every person that helped make this project a reality," he said. " It is so important to document our history, not only with the written word, but with projects as we are doing here for the museum."
General Clark will hold a professional development talk at 11 a.m. in the Building 300 auditorium, following the presentation of "Ginny".