The Story of "Captain John" Lavra, U.S.N. (Ret.)

Capt. John Lavra started his career in the U.S. Navy in June 1944 as an enlisted sailor. He retired from active duty in October 1970 with over 26 years of service and many Medals and commendations. During that time he received a commission and became a naval aviator and was recalled to active duty for Korea in 1950.

 

His experiences as a naval aviator range from flying the U.S. Navy’s N2S (Stearman) biplane to the A4D “Skyhawk” and includes developing improved aerial photo surveillance to being shot down over North Korea in an A1 “Skyraider” while attacking a North Korean hydro-electric plant.

 

His remarkable skill and training resulted in his escaping Communist forces to be rescued by a Navy helicopter crew. His actions were highly commended by the U.S. Navy and helped to ensure the safety of other aviators. Captain Lavra’s phenomenal story in photographs is below.

Click photographs below  to expand

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John's Naval Career and Medals

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Enlisted Sailor

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Getting ready for a mission

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John as an Officer

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USS Essex

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A Rough Landing in the AD1 "Skyraider"

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Starboard view of AD-1 "Skyraider" after a rough landing

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Port side view of AD-1 "Skyraider" after bad landing

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Lucky Guy

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John, kneeling in center front with F4U "Corsair"

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John's list of planes that he flew during his 26 years

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John developed better aerial photography to help save pilots from being shot down.

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New type camera mount developed by John

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Another view of camera configuration developed by John

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John is shot down in North Korea while bombing hydro-electric plant

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Naval radio traffic reporting John's shoot down over Korea

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John's AD-1 "Skyraider" going down in flames

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John's official interrogation Page 1

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John's official interrogation Page 2

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John's official interrogation Page 3

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John's official interrogation Page 4

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John's official interrogation Page 5

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John's official interrogation Page 6

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John's official interrogation Page 7

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John's official interrogation Page 8

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John on deck after being treated for burns

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John recuperating from burns received in burning plane

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Back on ship after being rescued in Korea

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Helicopter Rescue Crew

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Pilot's equipment

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Flight of "Skyraiders"

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In flight gear

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John makes successful emergency landing on carrier, transfers lunch to new plane, continues mission

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SNJs on training base

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Newspaper article

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F4U "Corsair"

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Trainer aircraft

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Flight deck

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Another newspaper article

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John helped train Argentine pilots on the A4 "Skyhawk"

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John on left with distinguished group of Navy and Marine aviators

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Navy F4 "Phantom" in formation with U.S. MIG-17 - You don't see that every day!

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John receives medal

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John in dress whites