IN MEMORIAM
Colonel er Jacques " Red " Dewaelheyns

21/06/1933 - 03/07/2017
 
Jacques discovered aviation during the dark hours of the Second World War, as many of his fellow youngsters did at that time. Victim of the aerial attacks on civilians, Jacques decided to turn to aviation with the defence of the oppressed in mind. But his project to become a pilot after the war was denied by his father and it took Jacques quite a lot to persuade him.
So after high school graduation he went to Goetsenhoven where he did his first soloflight on a SV-4bis on September 20th, 1951.
Having completed his initial training in November 1951, he was sent to Morana AFB, in the United States, to receive his military training. And it was there, as the instructors had difficulties in pronouncing his name, he got the nickname "Red" Because of the reddish color of his hair. This nick name remained sticking to the skin for good !
After his stay in the USA, he came back to Belgium to Goetsenhoven again and volunteered for Canada in February 1952. "Red" started his training on Harvard at Gimli airbase and in March 1953 came back with some 291 flight hours in his valuable logbook.
 
 Got his wings in Canada
(Coll "Red" via AMB) 
"Red" on Meteor F.8
(Coll "Red" via AMB) 
 
At Brustem, "Red" moved on to the Spitfire Mk IX, flights went on and Jacques defeated the inherent problems of the Spitfire (tricky braking, propeller hits on the runway during take-off and landings,…). Starting on the Spitfire Mk XIV still at the EPA (Ecole de Pilotage Avancée - Advanced Training School), he noticed the differences between the Mk IX and Mk XIV.
Afterwards Jacques flew the Gloster Meteor, after some flights on the Airspeed Oxford, to get prepared to a twin-engine airplane as the Meteor. Having flown the Meteor T.7, "Red" moved on to the F.4, a real fighter plane.
Having completed his training in August 1953, "Red" was assigned to 349th Squadron at Beauvechain airbase and at that time Jacques changed from non-commissioned regime to officer status.
In 1955, Jacques was called upon to attend the instructor pilot (IP) course at Koksijde and once graduated; he was assigned to the OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) still at Koksijde. It was also at Koksijde that "Red" flew his 1.000th flight hour. In January 1957 he went to Brustem as an IP and became CO of the IP Flight later on.
It was also during this time that "Red" flew the Meteor F.8 during airshows. This dawning passion for airshows would enter "Red" in the history of the Air Force. 1958 saw his passage through the Officer School at Koksijde but also his wedding with Jacqueline his loved wife.
Assigned to the 7th Squadron at Chièvres flying Hawker Hunters, he promoted from Flight Commander to Operations Officer of the squadron, but was also a spare pilot for the Red Devils, led by "Bobby" Bladt, and flew as the n° 16 when the team was flying 16 Hunter F.4. It is not without saying that this "slot" position was not the easiest to fly !
 
Affectation to the 7th Wing and the Hunter
(Coll "Red" via AMB) 
As reserve for "Bobby" Bladt team
(Coll Laurent Bladt)
 
Jacques went to the War School before returning to Brustem within the "Centre de Perfectionnement" being assigned as CO of the second Fouga squadron. It was there that Jacques, a.k.a. "Red", tried to persuade the General-Staff to accept the revival of the "Red Devils" team, but on Fouga this time. It was not easy, but thanks to his doggedness and the support of his wingmen, he finally convinced the authorities of the airbase, but especially General Ceuppens, Commander in Chief of the Air Force… through the go-between of his spouse. Which just shows that a General's wife… is a General by herself !
Once official, the team mechanics started working on a smoke-system and the first airshow took place in June 1965. "Red" led the team for two years. It is not without saying that all the "Red Devils" fans are hugely indebted to "Red" for this revival. But Jacques would be involved in another revival later on.
 
 1965 the official reborn of the "Diables Rouges"
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The 1966 folder
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
The present offered to the official guest during the official presentation of 1965
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)
 

General Ceuppens called upon him in 1967 for a position within the General Staff and during his stay at the Staff, "Red" was involved in major projects, the replacement of the SV-4bis but, most of all, the replacement of the Republic F-84F. One of his first missions led him to Mont-de-Marson (France) to fly the Mirage IIIB and assess if the passage from Fouga directly on to Mirage was feasible. In parallel, the Siai-Marchetti SF.260M was chosen as the new training aircraft, being far more modern as the SV-4bis.
It was also the impetus of Jacques to equip Goetsenhoven with two concrete runways, avoiding expensive drainage systems for the grass field.
After five years with the General-Staff, Jacques went through the War School as a lecturer and in July 1973 came back as OSN within the 3th Tactical Wing at Bierset.

 

First Mirage V solo as OSN of 3rd Wing Tac
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / SBAP)

 The Mirage IIIB test and evaluation
(Coll "Red" via AMB) 
 
Promoted Colonel, he left the 3th Wing for the General Headquarters of the AAFCE at Ramstein. Unfortunately, this was not the finest occupation of his career and having contacts within civil aviation; "Red" asked for an anticipated retirement and left the Air Force in September 1977.
His career as an aviation consultant kept him in touch with the Air Force and again under his impetus "Red" convinced the General-Staff to rename the "Hardship Red"-team to "Red Devils" for the 65th anniversary of the Air Force. Jacques succeeded and became the godfather of this Beauvechain based team.
 
 Gotfather of the new "Red Devils" in 2011
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Always with his loved wife...Sanicole 2013
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 "Red Devils" meeting at Beauvechain in 2013
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

But sadly, sickness catches up with this icon and we all will remember this cheerful and good-natured man, caring and loving for his wife and daughter, even in some darkest hours.
Through these lines, I would like to thank "Red" for offering me his friendship and trust within this bond that ties us together… the "Red Devils".
The SBAP team presents its sincere condolences to the family and friends.
I'm a pretty sure "Red" fulfilled his last flight bound for the angels, even being a "Devil" in his heart and now, sitting on a cloud together with the other "Devils", he keeps a watchful eye on his own and on his team… the Red Devils. So long "Red", we will miss you!

 

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