Flying Tigers
revised and updated


The first to fall

With a tip of the virtual hat to Steve Wolff, I've come into fresh knowledge about young Hank Gilbert, shot down and killed by Japanese bomber gunners over Rangoon on December 23, 1941.

Henry Gilbert Jr. was born in Oklahoma in September 1919. His family moved to Wyoming and homesteaded an unincorporated town called Frannie after the postmaster's daughter. They later settled in Lovell, also in Big Horn County, where young Hank graduated from high school in 1937. He studied at Texas A&M and Washington State University, dropping out to join the Navy, earning wings of gold at Pensacola in 1941.

Mr Wolff tells me that "his father, a Lt. Commander also in the Navy, died at age 90 just two weeks before the 1985 dedication" of the Hank Gilbert memorial in his home town of Lovell. Equally surprising, I see that Noel Bacon and Tex Hill both attended the ceremony. Noel was among the "dishonorably discharged" volunteers whom the AVG veterans' association refused to recognize. After valiant service in Burma, he went on home leave in February 1942 and stayed home to marry his sweetheart and rejoin the Navy.

Hank Gilbert's list of commendations is impressive: Purple Heart, WWII Victory Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Navy Expedition Medal, and China War Memorial Medal. There's no mention of the Distinguished Flying Cross supposedly awarded to every "honorably discharged" AVG pilot in 1992.

Cassius Clay and good reading for October

I call it the Warbird's Book Club, but my most rewarding extracurricular activity in September was watchin g the first episode of Mohammad Ali by Ken Burns & Co. As young Cassius Clay would have said, it's the greatest! (I watched the other six hours, too, but after he joined the Black Muslims, Clay/Ali became something of a sourpuss.) Really, you must watch the first two hours if nothing more. We have some incredible athletes today, but the young boxer was indeed without equal. Even the best of his opponents were rarely able to hit him. There he would dance, with his gloves down around his stomach, and I would shout at the screen: "Lift your hands!" But then the other guy fired a jab at his unprotected face ... which wasn't there any more! You couldn't see Clay move; he was the pugilistic eqivalent of Nijinsky or Nureyev, able to do what should have been impossible. The $50 DVD is available on Amazon and will ship on November 9. But if you hurry, you may be able to stream it on your local PBS station. (I got it through the PBS app on Roku Stick.) It's so good that it almost reconciled me to the shameful job Burns & Co did four years ago, retelling the Vietnam War to fit current prejudices.

On a more dignified level, I've read and reviewed The Finnish-Soviet Winter 1939-40: Stalin's Hollow Victory and Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare. See the Warbird's Book Club for more about those books. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more:
The Warbird's Book Club
Daniel Ford’s books
The Piper Cub Forum

Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty

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