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John "Johnny" R. Alison (born November 21, 1912), a highly decorated combat ace of World War II and veteran of the Korean War, is the father of Air Force Special Operations.

Early years

Born near Gainesville, Floridamarker in 1912, Alison graduated from the University of Floridamarker School of Engineering and joined the US Army Air Corps in 1936. He earned his wings and was commissioned at Kelly Fieldmarker in 1937. Prior to Americas entry into World War II, he served as Assistant Military Attache in England and helped British pilots transition into the P-40. In October 1941, Alison traveled to Moscowmarker to administer the sensitive US-Soviet P-40 Lend-Lease program. He trained Russian pilots in the P-40, A-20, and B-25 Mitchell aircraft. In his autobiography, Jimmy Doolittle wrote:


After ten months and repeated requests for reassignment to combat, Alison got his wish. In June 1942, he reported to the China-Burma-India Theater (CBI) to serve as Deputy Squadron Commander under major David Lee "Tex" Hill in the 75th Fighter Squadron, part of Colonel Robert Lee Scott, Jr.'s 23rd Fighter Group, the USAAF successor of the AVG's famed Flying Tigers in the China-Burma-India Theater.Alison was called into theater by the previous commander of the AVG, Brigadier General Claire Lee Chennault, who was currently serving as Commander of the Fourteenth Air Force. On 30 July 1942, Alison was credited with the first night kills in the theater. For his experimental night interception, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In early 1943, Alison demonstrated his aggressiveness when he took off during an attack on his own airfield. Alison engaged three A6M Zeros and scored one probable kill. He then vectored arriving reinforcements to the battle, after which he made a stern attack on another enemy fighter at close range, shooting it down. His gallantry and fighting spirit earned him the Silver Star. Ending his tour as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Alison left as an ace with seven confirmed victories and several probable kills. His former commanding officer, David Lee "Tex" Hill, had high praise for Alison:

Air Commando

Later Years

After the war, he served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, President of the Air Force Association, and as a major general in the Air Force Reserve. He retired as vice president of the Northrop Corporation in 1984 and is a 1994 inductee into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. Air Commando Hall of Fame retrieved January 26, 2008 In 1985 and 2004, Alison was inducted into the Air University's Gathering of Eagles program. In 2005, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Famemarker.


  1. Boltz, Images of Apollo's Warriors, pages 41-44
  2. John Alison DSC Citation Home of Heroes (September 12, 1942); retrieved January 30, 2008


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