Major Billy Hovde shaking hands with his crew chief Downing.
  Born: April 4, 1917
Birthplace: Crookston, MN

Rank at Retirement: Colonel
– 355th Fighter Group
— 358th Fighter Squadron
— 357th Fighter Squadron
Theatre(s): ETO
– WWII - DSC, SS, DFCx5, AMx8
– Korea - DSC, AM
– 12.5 Aerial (+1 damaged)
– 2 Ground (+2 damaged)
Total Sorties: N/A

Aircraft Flown: N/A

Billy Hovde graduated from US Military Academy January 19, 1942 and completed pilot training December, 1942. Assigned to 358FS/355FG in May, 1943 as a Captain and flight leader, he went to war with the Group in July, 1943 when they sailed to England.

Hovde downed a Fw`190 on 22 February, 1944 near Munster and followed with two more 190's on March 18, 1944. Hovde became the Group's eighth ace on July 19 when he shot down a 109 near Augsburg. His big day came when he led the 358FS on a bounce against 100+ combined 109's and 190's over Berlin, breaking up an attack against 2AD B-24's and personally shot down five and shared another, receiving the DSC for his action.

Hovde commanded the 358FS once in July before end of his first tour and again in August 1945. Before he returned home he would also command the 357FS to become the only fighter pilot to command two squadrons in the 355th. Billy Hovde was one of the most decorated 355th pilots along with Henry Brown and Claiborne Kinnard and Bill Cullerton, and finished combat ops as the number two air ace behind Henry Brown.

Hovde went to war again as a Lt. Colonel and squadron CO in 4th FIW in march 1951 where he shot down a MiG-15 to raise his total air score to 12.50.

He was promoted to Colonel in 1955 and retired from the USAF in June 1967.


Profile compiled by Bill Marshall - Photo courtesy Bill Marshall