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Passed away on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in Melbourne, Florida. He was born in Panama, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1945, and went on to proudly serve in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years. He was a command pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours, and 650 hours of combat flying. He was the nation's sixth ranking jet ace. Boots flew two combat tours in Vietnam and two during the Korean War. He was credited with shooting down ten enemy aircraft in Korea, making him America's leading jet ace at the time of his return to the U.S. in October 1952. He was a member of the Air Training Command Fighter Gunnery Team in 1955, which won the Air Force Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Championship, and he personally won all six trophies for individual performance, a feat never equaled. He wrote the fighter tactics book, "No Guts, No Glory", which has been used as a basis of fighter combat operations since 1955. He attended the National War College in WDC, and he also earned a master's degree in international relations from the George Washington University. His military decorations and awards include, among others, the Distinguished Service Cross; Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; and Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters. Boots is survived by his wife Betty, children Kent Blesse, Melanie Blesse Fileppo, Angelie Blesse, Chris Blesse, mother of his children and previous wife Dorothy K. Blesse; step-children Bill Lynch, Eileen Husselbaugh, Dan Lynch, and brother Jim Blesse, and sister Joan Griffin. A funeral mass was held on November 8 at Saint John the Evangelist in Viera, FL. A service will be held at Arlington Cemetery at a date to be determined.

Published in The Washington Post on Nov. 17, 2012
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