41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG)
P-39 Airacobra Pilot
Edwards Park was born September 21, 1917 and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and Peterborough, New Hampshire, where his family had a summer home. Nicknamed "Ted". He graduated Yale University, he was on a rowing team that won the 150-pound-and-under class at England's Henley Regatta.
On July 14, 1941 enlisted in the U.S. Army with serial number 31013536 and initially assigned to the Corps of Engineers. Transfered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and graduated from flight school, earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-792055. Sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG), 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS) "The Flying Buzzsaws" as a fighter pilot. Assigned P-39 "Nanette" Number 74 and flew missions from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby, Tsilli-Tsilli Airfield, Nadzab Airfield and Gusap Airfield. During his tour of duty, he claimed a single aerial victory credit and was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
On March 4, 1944 took off piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt on a mission and ambushed a Ki-61 Tony from the 68th Hiko Sentai, claiming it as shot down. The Japanese pilot bailed out and Park could see his face as he passed and chose not to strafe him in his parachute. His victory is described in both his books.
Later, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. In total, he flew 199 combat missions for a total of 415.35 combat hours with a total of 494.35 flying hours in the SWPA. Besides flying combat he served as Squadron Operations Officer, Acting Commanding Officer (C. O.) and Flight Commander. He earned The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Cluster. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered on the ground during a Japanese air raid on Nadzab Airfield on November 10, 1943.
During the war, he married Australian Jean Speirs Park.
Park worked at National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine. He authored two books about his experiences as a fighter pilot in New Guinea: Nanette: Her Pilot's Love Story originally published in 1977 and reprinted in 1989 and Angels Twenty: A Young American Flier a Long Way from Home published in 1997. He also co-authored The Art of William S. Phillips: The Glory of Flight. Park died on February 12, 2005.
Lisa Park (daughter)
NARA "World War II Army Enlistment Records" Edwards Park
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Park, Edward S [sic Edwards] page 147 (PDF page 154),
Alphabetical by theater of operation (SWP): Park, Edwards: 03/04/44 page 354 (PDF page 360), Chronological List: 03/04/43 page 421 (PDF page 426), 41st FTR SQ page 549 (PDF page 553)
Edwards Park Obituary February 20, 2005
Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1931-1945 (2002) Japanese records confirm that Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai took off from Wewak on a mission over Lae and two pilots were shot down: Lt Kazue Yamamoto and WO Kinji Hirahara
Nanette Her Pilot's Love Story (1977, reprint 1989) by Edwards Park
The Art of William S. Phillips (1994) by William S. Philips and Edwards Park
Angels Twenty: A Young American Flier A Long Way From Home (1997) by Edwards Park
Thanks to Lisa Park, Edward Rogers and Richard Dunn for additional information