07 June 2011

RIP: John Alison

John R Alison
21 Nov 1912 - 6 Jun 2011

ZUI this article from the Wall Street Journal:
John Alison was a U.S. combat ace in World War II and an innovator in developing Air Force commando tactics.

Maj. Gen. Alison, who died Monday at age 98, served in the China-Burma-India and Pacific theaters, was shot down at least twice and had seven confirmed kills as well as a number of probable kills.

An intimate of Air Force commander Henry "Hap" Arnold, he also advised Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on using gliders to ferry troops on D-Day.


...Mr. Alison initiated a daring night interception of Japanese bombers, downing two. His P-40 fighter—ill-equipped for night fighting—was badly shot up and Mr. Alison ended up ditching in a river. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for the action, in part because of the novelty of the night kills.

In 1944, as co-commanders of the first Air Commando Force, Mr. Alison and Lt. Col. Philip Cochran organized an unprecedented operation inside Burma—now Myanmar—then occupied by experienced Japanese jungle fighters.

Using a combined force of fighter planes, bombers, transports, gliders, ambulance planes and newfangled helicopters, the commanders established fortified bases behind Japanese lines in Burma, greatly facilitating a larger assault from British forces. Mr. Alison personally led the force into action, piloting a glider and 15 men to an improvised landing area in a teak forest.

In June 1942, he reported to China to serve as deputy squadron commander in Maj David Lee "Tex" Hill's 75th Fighter Squadron, the USAAF successor to the American Volunteer Group (the Flying Tigers). I remember reading about Alison in a book about the AVG when I was a kid - a long time ago, but I recognised his name immediately when I saw it in the obituaries list.

Left to right: Maj John Alison, Major "Tex" Hill, Capt "Ajax" Baumler
and Lt Mack Mitchell

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