Flying Tigers

HOME > TIGERS > Hank Gilbert

First to fall: more about Hank Gilbert

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 (the name of the postmaster's daughter). They later settled in Lovell, also in Big Horn County, where young Hank graduated from high school in 1937. He attended Texas A&M, transferred to Washington State University, but dropped out to join the Navy, earning wings of gold at Pensacola in 1941.

Mr Wolff tells me that Hank's 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. I hope that Tex was friendlier to him than the AVG veterans' group, whose website after all these years still doesn't admit Noel's existence.)

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.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Looking Back From Ninety

On this website: Front page | Flying Tigers | Chinese Air Force | Japan at War | Brewster Buffalo | Glen Edwards & the Flying Wing | Vietnam | War in the Modern World | The Spadguys Speak | Bluie West One | Poland 1939-1948 | Book Club | Book reviews | Question? | Google us | Website & webmaster | Site map

Other sites: Flying Tigers: the book | Daniel Ford's blog | Daniel Ford's books | Facebook | Piper Cub Forum | Raintree County | Reading Proust | Expedition Yacht Seal

Posted December 2021. Websites © 1997-2021 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved. This site sets no cookies, but the Mailchimp sign-up service does, and so does Amazon if you click through to their store.