Anthony "Red" Mazotas
Forty-One Years a "Flying Yankee"
The Unique Career of
Chief M/SGT. (RET.) ANTHONY E. “RED" MAZOTAS
Anthony E. "Red" Mazotas has the unique distinction of having spent his entire military career, a total of forty-one years, with the same squadron. This is believed to be a record without parallel in the United States Air Force or the Air National Guard.
“Red” Mazotas, one of three brothers who later served with distinction with the same organization, joined the 118th Squadron of the Connecticut National Guard as a private when the unit was organized in 1923, and is one of only five surviving members of the original cadre.
He served in the 118th continuously from his enlistment in 1923, through all of the squadron's transitions and reorganizations until his retirement as a Chief Master Sergeant in 1965, and was the only member of the original unit to do so.
During his forty-two years with the 118th, known originally as the 118th Observation Squadron, “Red” flew in, worked on and/or supervised the maintenance of a whole line of historic and relatively modern aircraft, including the JN-4 “Jenny”, the DH-4, 0-11, P-39, P-40, P-51, P-47, A-26, F-84, F-94, F-100 and various other training and support aircraft. The 118th became known, successively, as the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 118th Fighter lnterceptor Squadron, and today the 118th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Connecticut National Guard. The 118th, known officially as the “Flying Yankee” squadron since 1925, became known as the "Black Lightning" squadron in China because of the black lightning markings painted on the squadron's P-51's in late 1944 and 1945. "Red" Mazotas was Line Chief of the squadron during that period, but at heart remained a "Flying Yankee".
Line Chief, "Red" Mazotas entertaining his troops in the 118th TRS
C/MSgt Mazotas' active duty combat service with the Army Air Forces began with the induction of the 118th Squadron into Federal Service in February 1941, and continued until late 1945 when the 118th was returned to the U.S. and released from active duty.
During the Korean emergency the squadron was once again called into active service, and once again "Red" Mazotas was there, as Line Chief of the 118th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Air Defense Command. With the termination of the emergency, and the squadron's release from active duty, "Red" returned to his previous full time position as a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard where he remained until his retirement in 1965.
With a lifetime of accomplishments behind him, he now contents himself with attending conventions and regional meeting of the 14th Air Force Association, and regaling the "troops" with his stories of the 118th's role in history from its inception through its many periods of reorganization leading up to its "finest hour" as a part of the 23rd Fighter Group, 14th Air Force, in China, and its development as a highly regarded "combat ready" squadron in today's Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force.
From World War I Trainer to Supersonic Fighter, "Red" Mazotas has seen it all. The "heroes" and the "aces" have come and gone; but he remembers: he remembers his C.O. and top ace Ed McComas; aces Lubner and Williams, and guys like James "Earthquake McGoon” McGovern, McMillin, Beckett, Poats, Meyers, "Whitey" Johnson, Geyer, Havek, Scheer and other pilots he sweated out. And he remembers his men. For "Red" and men like him are the men who put them in the air and sweated out their return. They are the men who worked day and night under difficult and often dangerous conditions to "keep them flying", felt the frustrations of losses in combat, fled by Jeep from Kweilin and other bases in China one step ahead of the advancing Japanese after making sure the last of our aircraft were safely off the ground, and seldom received proper credit for what was then all in the day's work.
Red Mazotas, thus typifies the many men like him whose dedication and devotion to duty, through good times and bad, helped to make the l4th Air Force great, and contributed substantially to making the United States Air Force and its Air National Guard component what it is today. They deserve our eternal respect and admiration.
By Charles McMillin, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.)-118th TRS
This article was written in 1982. Anthony Mazotas died on December 1, 1998 at the age of 94.