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
John's Naval Career and Medals
Getting ready for a mission
John as an Officer
A Rough Landing in the AD1 "Skyraider"
Starboard view of AD-1 "Skyraider" after a rough landing
Port side view of AD-1 "Skyraider" after bad landing
John, kneeling in center front with F4U "Corsair"
John's list of planes that he flew during his 26 years
John developed better aerial photography to help save pilots from being shot down.
New type camera mount developed by John
Another view of camera configuration developed by John
John is shot down in North Korea while bombing hydro-electric plant
Naval radio traffic reporting John's shoot down over Korea
John's AD-1 "Skyraider" going down in flames
John's official interrogation Page 1
John's official interrogation Page 2
John's official interrogation Page 3
John's official interrogation Page 4
John's official interrogation Page 5
John's official interrogation Page 6
John's official interrogation Page 7
John's official interrogation Page 8
John on deck after being treated for burns
John recuperating from burns received in burning plane
Back on ship after being rescued in Korea
Helicopter Rescue Crew
Flight of "Skyraiders"
In flight gear
John makes successful emergency landing on carrier, transfers lunch to new plane, continues mission
SNJs on training base
Another newspaper article
John helped train Argentine pilots on the A4 "Skyhawk"
John on left with distinguished group of Navy and Marine aviators
Navy F4 "Phantom" in formation with U.S. MIG-17 - You don't see that every day!
John receives medal
John in dress whites