David Lee “Tex” Hill, Triple Ace Flying Tiger, Headed West Thursday Evening

Oct 12, 2007 No Comments by
 

Our great friend and Warrior went West at 5:00  Thrusday  afternoon.  We wish him a safe flight and smooth landing. Blue skies .

   Tex Hill’s health has been on the decline for a long while.  He has been in and out of the hospital the past  six  weeks or so with his last visit a week ago when he suffered a painful fall in the early hours of the morning.  The fall caused a severe back/spinal injury  that  can only be relieved with strong medication.  He slept most of the time but woke up one morning and stated that he would like to have
a party. 
    Several friends were notified and arrived that afternoon to visit with the great man and which also may be a final farewell.  And there were surprises. John Agather has a fine voice and presented his version of the Mills Brothers and Frank Sinatra which Tex seemed to enjoy very much.  Another old time friend played a guitar and Tex joined in by playing a harmonica. His doctor called to  see if he was still with us. And when he found out what was going on he rush over to join the party.  Mrs Hill was rather upset about the whole event but told me that it was Tex’s  party and she was happy after the fact and especially that Tex survived the ordeal.  He  did rally for a short time and held my hand for a few minutes but was in no shape to visit. 

David Lee Tex Hill was born on 13 July 1915 in Kwangju, Korea, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, who moved to Texas when he was  six  years old. After finishing Austin College in 1938, Tex completed naval flight school and served  in a torpedo squadron on USS Saratoga and in a dive-bomber squadron on USS Ranger.

He was recruited in 1941 to serve in the Claire Chennaultís AVG Flying Tigers. He served as a flight leader and then squadron leader flying the Curtiss P-40. In his service with the AVG, he was credited with destroying 10.25 Japanese planes, and was one of the top aces. His first victories came on January 3, 1942, when he downed two Ki-27 Nates over the Japanese airfield at Tak, Thailand. He claimed two more on the 23rd. Tex made ace on the 24th, when he shot down a bomber and a fighter over Rangoon.   In May 1942, the Japanese Army began building  a key pontoon bridge across the Salween River, that would allow the Japanese  to move troops and supplies into China. To stem this tide, Squadron Leader David Lee “Tex” Hill led a flight of four new P-40′s . . bombing and strafing into the mile deep gorge. During the next four days, the AVG pilots flew continuous missions into the gorge, effectively neutralizing the Japanese forces. From that day on, the Japanese never advanced farther than the west bank of the Salween. Claire Chennault would later write of these critical missions, “The American Volunteer Group had staved off China’s collapse on the Salween.”

After the deactivation of the Flying Tigers Tex Hill was one of only five to join its USAAF successor, the 23rd Fighter Group. He was promoted to major in the Army Air Corps. then later commanded the 23rd Fighter Group. In late 1944, before returning to the States, Tex Hill and his P-51 Mustang scratched another six Japanese aircraft.

Altogether, Hill destroyed 18.25 enemy aircraft in the air.

On Thanksgiving Day 1943, he led a force of 12 B-25s, 10 P-38s, and 8 new P-51 Mustangs based in China, on the first strike against Japanese-held Formosa. The Japanese had 100 bombers and 100 fighters located at a Formosan Airfield, and several of the bombers were in the landing pattern as “Tex” Hillís force arrived. The enemy managed to get seven fighters airborne, but they were promptly shot down. Forty-two Japanese airplanes were destroyed and 12 more were probably destroyed in the attack. The American force returned home with no casualties.

During the closing months of WW II, Tex Hill Commanded the first jet aircraft unit in the Army Air Forces flying the Bell XP-59 and then the Lockheed Shooting Star.


Military Honors : Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Chinese Order of the Cloud Banner 4, 5 & 6th, 2-Star Wing Decorations, Chinese Victory Medal and British Distinguished Flying Cross.

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