Maj. Gen. John R. Alison, USAF (Ret.) (1912-2011).

Position:In Memoriam - In memoriam


One of the greats of the "greatest generation," Maj. Gen. John R. Alison, died at his home in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 2011. He was ninety-eight.

He was born on November 21, 1912, in Micanopy, Florida. A 1935 graduate of the University of Florida, he tried to enlist in the Navy but was rejected as "too short." Alison lost little time joining the Army and learning to fly. During World War II, he helped train British and Soviet airmen to fly the P-40 pursuit (fighter) planes they had acquired through the Lend-Lease program. Alison served with the famous 75th Fighter Squadron, the Flying Tigers, led by Claire Chennault. Credited with seven aerial victories, Alison earned the designation fighter ace. In 1943, Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold assigned him and Philip Cochran to a top-secret mission that involved supporting British guerrilla forces fighting the Japanese in Burma. Launched at night on March 5, 1944, "Operation Thursday," was a revolutionary form of warfare. While British Maj. Gen. Orde Wingate and his "Chindits" practiced hit and run tactics against much larger Japanese forces, Alison and Cochran delivered supplies, ammunition, pack animals, and whatever else Wingate needed. Flying at night, the American air commandos employed gliders and made the first use of helicopters in combat. In six days, they transported more than 9,000 troops, 1,500 horses and mules, and 500,000 pounds of supplies; they...

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