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Dave

RAF wings Awarded in USAAF Flight School?

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All:

 

I've been researching a fellow now for the past 15 years or so and finally found his obit. It states:

 

...Ken decided he wanted to fly in the Army Air Corps. He was initially sent to Birmingham, Ala. for Basic Training. Ken then spent four weeks at Maxwell Field, Ala. for Basic Pilot Ground School, and was then transferred to Clewiston, Fla. for six months of Advanced Flight Training. Ken was awarded both Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Corps Wings upon graduation from Advanced Flight School in April 1944. Ken flew four engine transports including the C-54, C-87 and C-109 in the dangerous China-Burma-India Theatre over the Himalayan Mountains. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, our nations fourth highest-flying honor, and two Air Medals for his ''Heroic achievement in the face of hazards and difficulties faced regularly and continuously with steadfast devotion to duty.''

 

Has anyone else heard of this happening?

 

It seems that just about everyone gets excited when they see a pair of RAF wings on a pilot's jacket because that "means he's former Eagle Squadron" but here's a real world example where a guy got them without even leaving the US.

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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All:

 

I've been researching a fellow now for the past 15 years or so and finally found his obit. It states:

Has anyone else heard of this happening?

 

It seems that just about everyone gets excited when they see a pair of RAF wings on a pilot's jacket because that "means he's former Eagle Squadron" but here's a real world example where a guy got them without even leaving the US.

 

Dave

 

I don't think you can put full faith in an obituary. Usually written by someone other than the deceased, they tend to be sometimes inaccurate. It's likely that your man was in the RAF or RCAF and transferred to the USAAF later which is where the Obit begins. I have some reference on the some of the 9000 or so "Yanks" that were trained in Canada or the UK. Post his name and I'll see what I can find if anything. I would say he did not receive foreign wings from the USAAF.

Bobgee


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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I don't think you can put full faith in an obituary. Usually written by someone other than the deceased, they tend to be sometimes inaccurate. It's likely that your man was in the RAF or RCAF and transferred to the USAAF later which is where the Obit begins. I have some reference on the some of the 9000 or so "Yanks" that were trained in Canada or the UK. Post his name and I'll see what I can find if anything. I would say he did not receive foreign wings from the USAAF.

Bobgee

 

 

Bob-

 

I appreciate the assist, but he didn't. The majority of the obit reads as:

 

Ken graduated from Rugby High School in 1937. He then enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and received a degree in Industrial Design in 1940. Ken worked for the Allison Engineer Company in Indianapolis, Ind. from 1941 until his enlistment in the Army of the Untied States in 1943. As someone who loved airplanes and flying, and who had received his Private Pilots License at the age of 16, Ken decided he wanted to fly in the Army Air Corps. He was initially sent to Birmingham, Ala. for Basic Training. Ken then spent four weeks at Maxwell Field, Ala. for Basic Pilot Ground School, and was then transferred to Clewiston, Fla. for six months of Advanced Flight Training. Ken was awarded both Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Corps Wings upon graduation from Advanced Flight School in April 1944. Ken flew four engine transports including the C-54, C-87 and C-109 in the dangerous China-Burma-India Theatre over the Himalayan Mountains. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, our nations fourth highest-flying honor, and two Air Medals for his ''Heroic achievement in the face of hazards and difficulties faced regularly and continuously with steadfast devotion to duty.'' Ken married his high school sweetheart, the former Eloise Rochester, in December 1941. Ken and Eloise moved to Worthington, Oh. in 1954 so Ken could work at North American Aviation (now Rockwell International Corporation) at Port Columbus Airport. Ken worked for Rockwell until 1976 at which time he took an Advertising Manager position with the State of Ohio. Ken retired from the State of Ohio in 1985. Eloise passed away in 1997 after more than 55 years of marriage.

 

So no, he went straight in as an aviation cadet in 1943 after having worked for Allison Engineer Company from 1941 to 1943.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Also forgot to add that the uniform actually has legit RAAF wings on it....but is kitted out for a flier from the 9th AF, to include a bullion boot under the lapel. I bought it from a very good picker source 15 years ago and sold it about 12 years ago, but am helping the current owner with researching it as it's been an enigma with both of us.

 

My thought is now that he swapped jackets with someone in flight school...but RAAF wings???

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Also forgot to add that the uniform actually has legit RAAF wings on it....but is kitted out for a flier from the 9th AF, to include a bullion boot under the lapel. I bought it from a very good picker source 15 years ago and sold it about 12 years ago, but am helping the current owner with researching it as it's been an enigma with both of us.

 

My thought is now that he swapped jackets with someone in flight school...but RAAF wings???

 

Dave

 

"RAAF" wings even complicates the question further. If he flew transports in the C.B.I. why would he have a 9th AF patch?????? If the uniform as described showed up on EBay I think there would be a lot of skepticism. Have you looked him up in the Hump Pilot's Association Albums?

Bobgee


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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"RAAF" wings even complicates the question further. If he flew transports in the C.B.I. why would he have a 9th AF patch?????? If the uniform as described showed up on EBay I think there would be a lot of skepticism. Have you looked him up in the Hump Pilot's Association Albums?

Bobgee

 

Yep, all the same thoughts going through our heads. Of course, I bought this long before eBay was up and running, so that's a non-starter there, but it still has us scratching our heads.

 

Haven't looked through any of the albums or anything like that. Until yesterday evening, all I had was a first initial and his last name. For all I know, I could be tracking down the wrong guy, but this guy was a really close match.

 

Back to the hunt. Like I said in the beginning, this guy has been a 15 year mystery to us, and it might just go for another 15...

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Dave,

I am willing to bet a paycheck that the man didn't receive RAF wings after completing US flight school. I will bet that if he had RAAF wings he either spent time in an RAAF squadron or picked them up as a souvenir and decided to sew them on his uniform. As you say he flew the hump, he was probably seeing lots of US airmen wearing foreign wings- namely Chinese wings, so decided to had a set himself.

As for the 9th patch- your guess is as good as mine.

Still have photos?

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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The field in Clewiston was run by Emery-Riddle and also trained British pilots but I don't know why he would be awarded RAF wings. More likely he got the wings from a British flier, probably traded his for them, and who ever wrote the obituary knew he had the wings and assumed he was awarded them. As for the uniform, was that a typo or were the wings RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force)? Dose the uniform have the ribbons on it? Since he graduated in Apr 44 he would have probably been sent to the 9th AF for the build up for D-Day and could have transfered to the CIB later. He may have figured he would not need that uniform in the Pacific and left it at home and added the wings after he got out for what ever reason. And then again I might be completely wrong. But as stated before obituaries are notoriously inacurate.


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For them to have been authorized for wear, they would have had to have been awarded to him by the RAF.

 

That doesn't necessarily mean assignment to a RAF unit. He would probably have had to fly with them, but it could have been something as simple as providing training.


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Speaking of foreign wings here's an interesting pic of an RAF man wearing his RAF wings AND USAAF pilot wings. The reverse of the photo indicates his name was F/Sgt Norman Bowker and he was listed as Missing in Action on Feb 15, 1944 in a Lancaster. Many RAF/RCAF pilots trained at U.S. flying fields. I suspect that at completion of their training they were awarded both 'wings' and that this picture was probably taken at that time. It's the only one I have seen of an RAF pilot wearing USAAF wings. I don't think the RAF authorized it. I found the following on the at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site:

 

Name: BOWKER, NORMAN CHARLES

Initials: N C

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Flight Sergeant (Pilot)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 12 Sqdn.

Age: 21

Date of Death: 20/02/1944

Service No: 1577716

Additional information: Son of Joseph and Doris May Bowker, of Marston Green, Warwickshire.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: British Plot 1 Grave 44.

Cemetery: HARDERWIJK GENERAL CEMETERY - This cemetery is located in Holland and there are two other RAF airman who died the same day buried there.

 

Enjoy....Bobgee

 

Norman_Bowker_RAF_USAAF.JPG


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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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It's still policy today to award the US Army Aviator badge to foreign students who complete training at Ft. Rucker.


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Speaking of foreign wings here's an interesting pic of an RAF man wearing his RAF wings AND USAAF pilot wings.

 

 

WOWOWOWOWOW!!!!

 

That's a GREAT pic!

 

If I had seen that uniform on eBay, I would have made an "eBay jokes" thread about it. Who would have ever known????

 

Dave


Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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Prior to the US entering WWII, there were 6 flight schools in the US that trained RAF and commonwealth pilots as part of the lend-lease program (BFTS schools). Once the US entered the war, allied countries continued to use the US civilian pilot training schools to train their cadets in primary flight. I know a gentleman who was a flight instructor at one of the contract flight schools during WWII and he recalls training both RAF as well as American cadets. Since US flight cadets were also going through primary flight training with the cadets of other countries, it is likely that they were awarded each other's wings at the end of training. I have a photo of a class of US cadets with both the American and RAF wings. So, it is not unlikely that he went through primary flight training with some commonwealth (RAAF) cadets.

 

Patrick

 

first picture is of a BFTS instructor from a school in Texas.

 

second photo is of a couple of pilots with RAF wings. This is a post graduation picture (of at least the guy on the left). The guy on the left never flew with the RAF as far as my research has shown, just that he graduated with a class of commonwealth pilots.

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While moving threads around, I happened upon this older thread. What an amazingly interesting thread!


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Wow this is a very interesting thread and I am glad in has resurfaced! It would seem to me there are several ways the wings could have been added. I think the easiest one to get my head around is the one outlined by Patrick. As for the 9th AF patch maybe he had orders sending him to the 9th and then later they were changed and he ended up in the CBI... A good reason to send the jacket home.

 

John


Always looking for Wings & Named Air Medals!

Motto: To Collect, Preserve, and Remember!

 

 

 

 

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Here is an even STRANGER photo. A USAAF P38 pilot wearing an Italian wing.....

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As I'm new to this forum I've enjoyed going through old posts and was pleased to find this reference to the #1 BFTS school at Terrell, Texas. I was lucky to buy a small group of items from a man who was attached to the school as an instructor. I will attach a few images of the school's wing and a hand-painted on leather school jacket patch. I also got a few examples of RCAF and RAF wings that he was obviously given by some of the students.

 

Best Regards,

 

Davepost-4484-1225312836.jpg

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