T-6 TEXAN ('MOSQUITO')
Beside a Korean waterfall
One bright and sunny day
Beside his battered T6-G
A young Mosquito said
His parachute hung from a nearby tree
He wasn't yet quit dead
So listen to the very last words
The young Mosquito said
I'm going to a better land
Where everything's all right
Where whiskey grows on telegraph poles
Play poker every night
We don't have to work all day
Just sit around and sing
And all the crews are women
OH, DEATH ***** WHERE IS THY STING!
Peter Darakis proudly pose for the camera, probably in Korea. Worthy of notice is his dark blue flight suit and the colorful helmet. Although not as much famous to the broad public like the F-86s Sabres, the F-80s Shooting Stars and the F-51 Mustangs, the Mosquitoes have a proud record. During the war, they flew 40.354 combat missions and more than 120,00ft combat hours. The 6147th received two US and one Korean Presidential Unit Citations. One hundred of its pilots were listed as KIA (Peter was one of them), MIA. or POWs. Fortunately, nineteen of the POWs were repatriated at war’s end. The 6147th Tactical Air Control Group were the only unit, the only combat unit, of the Korean War to march as a unit lit the Korean War Memorial Parade. And the one and only airman statue at the Korean War Memorial is that of a Mosquito forward air controller. the 6147th Tactical Control Group lost 42 aircraft and 33 men. The Mosquitos flew over 40,000 sorties aiding in the destruction of 5 tank divisions, 563 artillery pieces, 5,079 vehicles, 12 locomotives, and 84 bridges. In spite of their success during the Korean War, the USAF disbanded the Mosquitoes and their mission in 1956, believing that slow flying airborne FACs were not practical in the supersonic jet age. Ironically, ten years later in Vietnam, the USAF re-examined the legacy of the Mosquitoes when it once again needed airborne FACs. (Copyright Jane Darakis Rinto)
Peter Manual Darakis was born in Amherst Ohio on June 28, 1928. Peter was the youngest of 3 sons born to John Darakis and Phyllis Darakis (nee Dietrich). Peter’s father, John Darakis, originally from Sklavopoula on the island of Crete, moved to the mainland to Leonidion, Argolidos to be a carpenter’s apprentice. It was from there he immigrated to the United States in August 1912 at the age of 22, leaving on the ship Themistocles from the port of Piraeus. Upon arriving in the US, Ellis Island, John set out for the west coast working on the railroad. He ended up in Pocatello, Idaho. It is unclear what brought him back east, but he finally ended up in Lorain, Ohio in 1921 which, at the time, had a large Greek population. It was in Lorain that he met and married Phyllis Dietrich in 1922. John and Phyllis settled in Amherst, Ohio where Peter and his 2 brothers were born. Peter’s two older brothers, Arthur and James, soldiered in WW II. Arthur served in Europe in the US Army and James in the US Navy in the Pacific. Like their father, both men learned a trade for a living. When the Korean War broke out Peter was 22 years old, had completed high school in Amherst, Ohio and had attended Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He had also spent some time working with his father as a builder of houses. Those who knew Peter found him quiet but well-liked. His friends called him "Pete”. Peter applied for the Air Force and wrote a small biography, to introduce himself:
"Peter M. Darakis is an average young man who has a conscientious outlook on life. He appreciates what people have done for him and likes to return any favors done for him. He attended Amherst High School, being in the upper third of his place, and became a member of the National Honor Society. He was active in the Hi-Y, French and Drama Clubs, Glee Club and participated in the All Ohio Chorus. He was the president of his class in his Freshman and Senior years and class representative the other two years. He participated in sports, but because he didn’t excel, he became a manager of the teams for a more active part. He attended college at Bowling Green State University for two years, majoring in architecture and obtained mathematics minor. He joined the Men's Glee Gunt and became a member of Phi Kappa Alpha National Social Fraternity. He has no special hobbies and is interested in a variety of subjects. He held a part-time job for Fischer's Bros, a large grocery concern, obtaining experience as a clerk. He also attended Standard Oil Co. (Ohio) school for station attendants and worked part-time in the capacity of an attendant. His main interest was construction work. Working with his oldest brother, he learned general house construction, interior finishing work and valuable instruction on contracting. He would like to continue his work in architecture and contracting. He feels that his experience thus far in the Air Force has been valuable."
Peter entered the Air Force and finished his basic military training on May 27, 1951, he then went on to flight school in Normal, Oklahoma to become a pilot. He began his Basic and continued to the Advanced Pilot Training on May 28 and finished it successfully on June 1952, while flying with the 3575th Training Squadron. For a short time, he took training as a co-pilot on B-25 Medium Bombers but later reverted to fighters, specifically flying T-6 Texans (Mosquito’s), as a Forward Air Controller (FAC). The primary FAC missions were to direct strike aircraft against enemy targets and conduct visual reconnaissance. Forward air controllers matched the most important targets with the limited resources available, significantly raising the efficiency of air strikes against the enemy. Since the USAF did not have any airborne FAC units at the beginning of the war, pilots flew the first missions with borrowed Army liaison aircraft only two weeks after the war started. To perform these missions, Mosquito FACs flew "low and slow" over enemy positions so they could spot and mark targets, a practice that left them particularly vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire. The value of these early Mosquitoes was readily apparent, and the hastily created, squadron-sized unit steadily grew in size while it developed the tactics of airborne FAC. Peter left for Korea in the spring of 1952. While in Korea, Peter flew 52 missions, logging 126 Combat Hours. He distinguished himself and he was awarded the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. According to the citation of the Air Medal:
Second Lieutenant PETEP M. DARAKIS has distinguished himself by participating in twenty (20) aerial flights in support of the Republic of Korea and United Nations Forces from an airstrip in Korea to target areas behind enemy lines during the period 15 September 1952 to 13 October 1952, inclusive. Willingly and with full knowledge of the hazards involved, Lieutenant DAHAKIS flew as a pilot in an unarmed T-6 type aircraft which penetrated areas of ground activity to locate enemy targets and direct close support aircraft. By his courage, ability, and devotion to duty, Lieutenant DARAKIS has brought great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The LT-6G, #49-3544 was one of the planes flown by Peter Darakis, as shown above in the inflight photo which was taken by one of his fellow aviators. The Dubbed the 'Mosquitoes' due to their small, annoying aircraft that signaled to the enemy that they were about to be “stung,”, the venerable T-6s made their mark during the Korean War as FAC. The majority in T-6D, T-6F, and LT-6G Texans fitted with 2.25-inch white phosphorous (WP) or smoke rockets. Five-inch WP rockets were also used when the squadron first formed, but as the squadron gained notoriety for its success in supporting Air Force and Army units, it was able to upgrade its aging equipment and obtain newly manufactured aircraft to carry more of the smaller rockets. Unarmed except for the marker rockets, the FACs flew low and slow over enemy territory, drawing fire from any and every enemy rifle and an anti-aircraft gun in the area. While the T-6 turned out to be a rugged aircraft that could bring its pilot and observer home, even with a 37 mm shell hole in the root of its wing, approximately 80 Mosquito personnel were killed or listed as missing in action, while another 15 spent time as prisoners of war after their T-6s were shot down. It should be noted that few years before, the Royal Hellenic Air Force employed three squadrons of British and American-supplied T-6D and G Texans for close air support, observation, and artillery spotting duties during the Greek Civil War providing extensive support to the Greek army during the Battle of Gramos. Communist guerillas called these aircraft 'O Galatas' ('The Milkman') because they saw them flying very early in the morning. After the 'Milkmen', the guerillas waited for the armed Spitfires and Helldivers. (Copyright Gaetan Marie, further info Kim Rosenlof, Wikipedia)
Peter played a significant role in his squadron missions and excelled in some of them as his Distinguished Flying Cross citation writes.
Second Lieutenant PETEP M. DARAKIS has distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a pilot of an unarmed T-6 type aircraft, 6147th Tactical Control Group, Fifth Air Force, on 20 October 1952. While on a tactical mission near Kumhua, Korea, Lieutenant DARAKIS expertly directed three flights of fighter-bomber aircraft, in an attack on an enemy troop concentration and assembly area. After making, a low altitude reconnaissance of the target area, Lieutenant DARAKIS contacted the fighter-bombers and completely led them over the target. Despite enemy automatic weapons fire, he remained over the target area, and accurately directed the fighter-bombers on their attack runs. Lieutenant DARAKIS skillful direction resulted in one hundred yards of trench damaged, one fire, eleven bunkers damaged and three secondary explosions. By his high personal courage, outstanding professional ability and devotion to duty, Lieutenant DARAKIS reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces and the United States Air Force.
He was scheduled to go home in April 1953. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. First Lieutenant Peter Darakis was the pilot of a LT-6G Mosquito control aircraft with the 6148th Tactical Control Squadron, 6147th Tactical Control Group. On March 10, 1953, while on a reconnaissance mission, his aircraft received a direct hit by anti-aircraft fire, crashed and exploded. Witnesses who saw it said it went down in flames and they saw no parachute. According to the official report:
"Pilot and observer took off on a routine tactical reconnaissance mission at 0610 hours| 10 Mar 53. They checked in at Acme Control at 0625 and acknowledged control's "negative traffic" transmission, at this time the controller at acne observed a T-6 type aircraft passing mosquito-transmitted cloud layer heading north· At 0630 hours the mosquito transmitted the weather to mosquito to a sup and this transmission was received, verified and acknowledged. This was the last known transmission· At 0645 hours, an Army observer Pfc. C.E Barkey, US 55226766 at US Flash OP No 2-(CT994449) (code name Teepee) saw a machine gun firing in the vicinity of DT 0153 coordinates. He then stated he saw a single engine prop type aircraft burst into flames and crash with an explosion at approx DT 012534· He saw no abates or other details other than smoke due to the distance and poor visibility· He was unable to identify the type aircraft with any certainty. Two nearby OP observers were able to confirm crash location by smoke but did not observe any ether incident or further action. At 0750 hours, Toes Up ground had reported a plane crash to Mosquito Toss Up and they attempted to contact all Mosquito in the air with the result of all planes checking in except Acme 1 which was flown by Lt Darakis. Prior to this, all ground stations in the area, had been alerted and tried to contact Acme 1 but without success. SFC Price was observer of Acme 1. At this point, Mosquito Toss Up directed Marlin 1 to proceed to this area to attempt to contact or find Acme 1. Marlin 1 was later joined by Acme 2 in the attempt, but neither was able to make reconnaissance at the coordinates given due to low ceilings and visibility in the crash area. Ground search was prohibited by the depth of the crash behind enemy lines. From this time a search was continued by special Mosquito missions to the area but because of weather, the crash area was unsearchable · All ground around the area and the routes between Κ-47 and the control area were searched with negative results· (Grayish smoke from the or ash area was sighted up to 0930 hours by Marlin 1 and Acme 2, but this was the only sign visible to any of the searches. Guard channel was monitored for any possible transmission of Pilot during the search with negative results· At 1030, the search was discontinued due to intermittent scud layers and cloudy, hazy weather. As it has not been ascertained that the downed aircraft was definitely an LT-6, type, and because of location of crash union made it impossible for ground search to recover possible remains, it is my sincere belief that Lt P. M. Darakis and SFC Forrest L. Price should be continued to be listed in MIA status· Hazardous weather conditions prevented a thorough search on the first day, but the following day,' all Mosquito type aircraft that searched the coordinate were unable to sight wreckage or any other significant substantiation of crash."
Originally listed as MIA, his status was changed one year later to presumed dead on March 11, 1954. Peter was just 24 years old. His family has always held out hope that some evidence of life or death would be discovered, but as of 2018, no evidence has been found. We ending this tribute with his niece, Jane Darakis Rinto words: Peter Darakis was one of many brave men of Greek heritage who fought in one of the many wars that have involved the United States. Although I never knew him, because he was became missing before I was born, I know he has been loved and missed by his family for the past 65 years.
The photos on the right show Darakis during his Korea deployment as a Forward Air Controller, with the 6147th Tactical Control Group. Note that the pilot, or observer, or maybe a 'guest', posing with Peter in the first photo looks like a woman, which would be very interesting to know his/her identity. In the last photo, Peter poses with his brothers. According to his niece Jane Darakis Rinto: Pete (one on the left) with his two older brothers( Arthur-Army WW2 in the middle and my dad, James-Navy WW2). (Jane Darakis Rinto and W.M.Clevelant)
1. Dimitrios Vassilopoulos correspondence with Jane Darakis Rinto.
2. Peter Darakis Officer Military Personel File and Casualty File
3. Mosquitos in Korea by W.M.Cleveland
Special Thanks to Jane Darakis Rinto and Donald Mounts researcher and owner of Global Military Research, LLC, and my unknown friend whose mails i lost but find his poem (contact me if you see the tribute!)