This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
By Clay T. McCutchan Air Armament Center Historian, Eglin AFB, FL


Major General John R. Alison


passed away on 6 Jun 2011 and will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, VA, on 3 October 2011. He was 98. General Alison, was born in Mi-


canopy, Florida, 21 November 1912, and grew up in nearby Gainesville. He received an engineering degree from the University of Florida in 1935 and then attended US Army Air Corps pilot train- ing and got his commission and wings at Kelly Field, Texas. As a pursuit pilot in the late 1930s


with the 8th and 57th Pursuit Groups, he played a major part in the buildup of fighter forces and development of fighter tactics for the World War Two


cal performance, particularly in an air- plane. He made a legendary reputation as a P-40 aerobatic demonstration pilot to Claire Chennault and the National- ist Chinese. In the spring of 1941, he served in England as a military attaché, again demonstrating the P-40 and stud- ied Royal Air Force lessons from the Battle of Britain. There, he experienced the German Luftwaffe air raids and met Winston Churchill. Along with Captain Hub Zemke, he served as military atta- ché to the Soviet Union and accompa- nied Harry Hopkins to Russia where he assisted in the P-40 fighter lend lease program and instructed Russian pilots in the P-40, A-20, and B-25.


This inaugural edition of the Air Commando Journal is dedicated to the memory of Maj Gen John Alison


Army Air Force. He knew Lieuten- ant Colonel Carl Spaatz and Lieuten- ant Curtis LeMay and served alongside Lieutenant Phil Cochran. Quiet, moral, humble, intellectual, unassuming, his 5 foot, 5 and ¾ inch frame packed an aggressive fireball of mental and physi-


Requesting transfer to China, he


served under General Claire Chennault and Major David “Tex” Hill with the Army’s 23rd Fighter Group “Flying Ti- gers.” General Alison scored the first air to air night kills for the “Tigers”, and later achieved “Ace” status while com-


6 │ AIR COMMANDO JOURNAL │ Fall 2011


manding the 75th Fighter Squadron. He was chosen in 1943 by Gen Hen-


ry “Hap” Arnold, head of the Army Air Forces, to serve with Lieutenant Colo- nel Phil Cochran as deputy commander of the First Air Commando Group in the China-Burma-India theater. The 1st Air Commandos supported British General Orde Wingate’s “Chindit” Commandos, and successfully pulled off Operation THURSDAY, the first nighttime, behind enemy lines, airfield seizure. Alison led the glider assault as the senior air of- ficer present for the landings. He also flew the Air Commando B-25s, P-51s, C-47s, and the light planes. He was also responsible for the Air Commandos ob- taining the first helicopters for combat. He personally briefed General Eisen- hower on combat glider operations prior to D-Day in Europe. During the last year of the war, he


served in the Pacific theater again as the deputy chief of staff for the 5th Air Force and directed B-29 bomber opera- tions against Japanese forces in the Phil- ippines and Okinawa. General Alison left active service


as a colonel in 1946. He joined the Air Force Reserve and commanded the


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