This folder contains a repaint for the FG-1D Corsair by Milviz, in the colors of F4U-1 BuNo 55995 of VF-17, the aircraft flown by Lt (jg) Ira C. Kepford, Bougainville, February 1944. Ira Cassius Kepford was born in Harvey, Illinois, on May 29, 1919, son of George Raymond and Emma McLaughlin Kepford. His family moved to Muskegon, Michigan, shortly after he was born. An all-around athlete at Muskegon High School from 1935-1937, he capped his prep career by being named an All-State back in his senior year. He enrolled at Northwestern University in 1938 to study for a dentistry career.
He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on August 18, 1941, and was honorably discharged on April 29, 1942, to accept appointment as Aviation Cadet, U.S.N.R. After flight training at the Naval Air Stations, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Miami, Florida, he became a Naval Aviator on November 5, 1942, and was commissioned Ensign, U.S.N.R., with date of rank October 16, 1942.
Detached from Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida, in December 1942, he served with Fighting Squadron 17 in the Pacific War Area until March 1944, where he became the U.S. Navy's leading ace, scoring a record 16 confirmed Japanese planes destroyed. That squadron won the Navy Unit Commendation and he was personally awarded the Navy Cross, a Gold Star in lieu of the second Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
From March until June he was attached to the Fleet Air, Alameda, Command, and the last six months of that year served with Fighting Squadron 84. In December 1944 he was transferred to the staff of Commander Fleet Air, West Coast, and remained in that assignment throughout the remaining period of hostilities. Repaint by Jan Kees Blom.