Over 47 years ago, Roy M. "Butch" Voris formed, trained and led our nation's longest flying aerial demonstration team, the Blue Angels. A native of Santa Cruz, California, Voris received his "wings of gold" at NAS Corpus Christi in February 1942. Immediately posted to Fighting Squadron Ten (VF-10) on board the carrier Enterprise, Voris took part in the Battle of Guadalcanal and scored his first aerial victory while flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat. A few days later he was seriously wounded when he and two wingmen engaged a much larger force of Japanese fighters. After recovering from his wounds, Voris was sent to VF-2 again on the USS Enterprise.
During this time he was selected to be a bat-team pilot, flying experimental night fighter operations against enemy aircraft attacking Americans landing on Tarawa. Voris completed the war on board the USS Hornet, flying combat missions during the final sweep through the Pacific. By the end of World War II, Voris had shot down seven Japanese aircraft, and earned 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals and a Purple Heart. Returning from the Pacific in early 1945, he became chief instructor for advanced tactics in the Naval Air Advanced Training Command at Daytona Beach, Florida. In April 1946, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, decided to organize a "Flight Exhibition Team" to demonstrate naval air power to the public and chose Voris to command the unit.
He selected two fellow instructors to join him on the team, and the three spent hours during the spring developing the show. On 15 June 1946 Voris led the three ship of Grumman F6F Hellcats through the first official demonstration at the Southern Air Show at Jacksonville, Florida. Voris left the Blue Angels in the summer of 1947 to take command of VF-113. Two years later he was sent to the Naval Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington D.C. When the Korean War started, the Navy disbanded the Blue Angels, but in 1951, senior Navy leaders decided to reactivate the team. Voris was again given the job of organizing the team.
His second tour with the "Blues" lasted until December 1952, when he was selected to command VF-191. Voris went on to command Attack Carrier Air Group 5, then worked in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. When he retired from the Navy in 1963, he joined Grumman Aerospace on Long Island, New York. At Grumman he helped in the development of the F-14 Tomcat and worked with the company's highly successful Apollo Lunar Module. In 1973, Voris left Grumman to work for NASA. He remains active in naval aviation through a variety of organizations such as the Golden Eagles, a highly distinguished and select group of Naval and Marine aviators.
On 24 August 1946, the Blue Angels, led by LCDR "Butch" Voris, roared down the runway at Denver's Stapleton Airport in three shiny new Grumman F8F Bearcats. From the 300-knot loop which opened the show to the inverted three-ship pass at less than 50 feet, Voris led the Blue Angels through a dynamic show sequence which thrilled the crowd and established a standard of excellence which has become the trademark of every Blue Angels show. Today's Blue Angels who fly the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, owe much to Voris and other warrior leaders.