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Tex Hill

Posted by aaron on May 3, 2008

 

David Lee “Tex” Hill. Like many young American men a generation before, who traveled to France to join the Lafayette Escadrille, Tex Hill volunteered to fight on foreign shores well before his own country would enter a World War. Born in Korea, the son of a Presbyterian missionary, Tex grew up, went to school and college in Texas. Having joined the Navy in 1938 he was already an accomplished fighter pilot when he volunteered to joint the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers. Tex was in Burma in 1941 to learn to fly the P-40 Warhawk and by January 1942 he had his first kill flying against Japanese forces over Thailand.
 
Probably his most renowned combat mission occurred in May 1942 when Tex lead four P-40’s into the mile-deep gorge of the Salween River where Japanese forces were building a pontoon bridge to cross into China. For four days Tex and the AVG strafed and bombed the Japanese until they pulled back and ultimately never crossed the Salween.

P-40 Warhawk
Photo by Max Haynes

 
The AVG would only remain a fighting force until the summer of 1942 when it was disbanded but, by then, fighting the Japanese on the ground and in the air, Tex had 12 ¼ kills. At that point, Tex was one of only five Flying Tigers who transitioned to the US Army Air Corps as a member of the 23rd Fighter Group, which he would later command. By now Tex was flying the P-51 and it’s believed that he was the first to shoot down a zero with the Mustang. When he departed the Pacific theater Tex had 18 ¼ kills.
 
He returned to the States in 1944 to take command of the 412th Fighter Group which would become the first US jet fighter unit. In 1945 Tex returned to his home state of Texas after separating from active duty and accepted command of the 58th Fighter Wing as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. He would be instrumental in establishing Guard units throughout the southern US. He would return to combat during the Korean war and became the youngest Brigadier General in Guard history.

Tex passed away last year at 92, October 2007. Over 2000 people attended his funeral including Texas governor Rick Perry who said Tex Hill was a“genuine American hero and a Texan of the highest caliber.” There's no higher praise than that.
 

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