Goldsboro's F-86H "Sabre at the Circle" by Jimmie Nelson
I can still remember the excitement, as well as so many others who love military aircraft, when the Sabres began coming into Seymour in October 1956.
I was 14 years old and to me nothing compared to jet military aircraft. Many like myself were finding it hard to believe that our own Seymour Johnson AFB would have 75-100 Sabres. They were the most famous planes in the world at that time.
Seymour Johnson AFB had been reactivated in April 1956, and in July the 83rd Fighter Day Wing with four squadrons was activated.
When the 83rd FDW came to a newly reactivated Seymour Johnson AFB, there was still a lot of construction going on. Some of the the buildings and other parts that made up the base needed improvement. The base headquarters was a brick farm house, yet the 83rd was able to put together a fighter wing with 4 squadrons and then had to switch over to a new and highly improved fighter plane in a little over a year.
Just three years before, in 1953, the F-86's were ruling the skies over North and South Korea. They destroyed more planes in the Korean war, (1950-1953), than any other plane. The Russian built MIG 15s were no match for the later improved Sabres, (F-86E's), with highly trained and dedicated pilots.
There were several groups that flew F-86's in the Korean war. The most famous being the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group which is now the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson. The 4th F.I.G shot down around Goo Planes, far more than all the other groups combined. What a plane! What a group!
Goldsboro gladly welcomed them in December 1957, when they moved here as the 4th Fighter Day Wing, to replace the 83rd FDW.
The F-86H Sabre on display at the center street circle is actually the same type of Sabre that began filling the skies over Goldsboro and Wayne County back in October 1956. It was the last version flown by the U.S. Air Force.
It is fitting that the Sabre at the circle wears the same paint scheme that the Sabres of the most famous group, the 4th Fighter Group, wore. They were painted with wide yellow bands with narrow black borders on the wings, tail rudder, and around the fuselage. Some even had their noses painted yellow and black like our ''Sabre at the Circle"!
So you see, with the Sabre put on display, we can be proud and remember how Goldsboro welcomed and worked with the first jet fighter wing stationed here in 1956. The 83rd FDW paved the way for the famous "4th But First" to start moving here in December 1957.
We can be equally proud that the Air Force picked Seymour Johnson and Goldsboro to be home of the 4th in December 1957. The 4th FDW was making their switch to Seymour Johnson after being in Korea and Japan for 7 years. They left their planes there and came here to begin learning to fly the new supersonic F-100C named The Super Sabre.
It was sad to see the F-86H Sabres go. There were only about 10 or 12 left in January 1958. The 83rd had begun to fly the F-100's and were sending the F-86H's to other fighter wings. This started in October 1957. Once the F-100's filled the skies, the pain of losing the F-86's was eased.
What a plane the F-100 was! It was picked by Air Force to be flown by the Thunderbirds in the mid 1950s. As a matter of fact, they were here at Seymour Johnson for the rededication in April 1957. What a show the Thunderbirds put on with the Super Sabres.
The "Sabre at the Circle" reminds us of Mayor Scott Berkeley and Congressman Graham A. Barden's successful ten-year fight to get the base reactivated. We are reminded also of the work and devotion to keep Goldsboro and Seymour blended together in those early years. The two of them are still going strong along with the Fourth Fighter Wing.
Thanks to the men and women of the Fourth Fighter Wing who helped restore our special F-86H Sabre.