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First Blue Angel

Capt. Roy M. "Butch" Voris, U.S. Navy



A native of California, Capt. Butch Voris graduated from Salinas Junior College in 1939. He entered the Navy in 1941 and by February 1942, he was commissioned an ensign and designated a naval aviator.

Grumman F6F Hellcat During his first deployment in World War II, Voris flew the Grumman F4F "Wildcat" from the aircraft carrier Enterprise. In his following cruise, he flew Grumman F6F "Hellcats" from Guadalcanal in support of the First Marines and from the carriers Enterprise and Hornet. During his air battles in the Pacific, he earned "fighter ace" status recording eight fighter to fighter confirmed kills. Voris commanded Fighter Squadron 113, Fighter Squadron 191, and Attack Carrier Air Group 5.

Voris' superb combat skills resulted in his selection by Adm. Arthur Radford and Cmdr. "Butch" O’Hare as one of four fighter pilots to conduct experimental night fighter operations intercepting and destroying enemy bombers attacking U.S. landing forces at Tarawa.

Voris earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, three Presidential Unit Citations, and the Purple Heart. He participated in numerous fighter sweeps against enemy airfields and other enemy installations as the Navy advanced through the Pacific.

After World War II, Voris was assigned to the Advanced Training Command at NAS Jacksonville.

In 1946, the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations directed the establishment of a Navy flight exhibition team to demonstrate precision fighter maneuvers at Navy air shows and public events.  Voris was selected as officer-in-charge and flight leader of this precision flying team. In forming the Navy Flight Exhibition Team,  Voris selected his aircraft, pilots and maintenance personnel from the Navy’s best officers and Sailors. The Grumman F6F "Hellcat" was chosen because of its outstanding flight characteristics. Voris directed modifications to the Hellcat to reduce its weight and implemented a new paint scheme with traditional Navy colors — blue and gold. Approved by Voris’ chain of command, the team flew its first air show at the Southeastern Air Exposition at Craig Airfield, Jacksonville. The Blue Angels first public performance earned the team its first trophy. That trophy sits in a place of honor at the current home of the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Fla.

In his first tour with the Blue Angels,  Voris flew the F6F "Hellcat" and the F8F "Bearcat." In 1951, he returned to reform and lead the team flying the F9F "Panther" jet.

After Voris retired from the Navy in 1963, he worked for the Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, N.Y., for the next 10 years. In 1973, he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the Office of Industry Affairs.

In 1985, Voris retired from civilian employment to Monterey, Calif., with his wife, Thea. In 1993, he was honored by the Air Force in a "Gathering of Eagles" ceremony as one of 20 aviators internationally who had made significant contributions to the world of aviation.

Voris passed away in 2005.


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