MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23d Fighter Group recently paid tribute to one of their fallen - a WWII ACE and Flying Tiger legend during a funeral in Marion, Ohio.
Retired Maj. Don Quigley, one of the last surviving members of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), died March 13 at the age of 101.
Who he was:
“Maj. Donald L. Quigley was an original member of the American Volunteer Group, who resigned their commission in the US military to join Claire Chennault in defending China from the Japanese invasion,” said Lt. Col. Steven Joca, 75th Fighter Squadron commander. “They were the first Americans to join WWII, a full five months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor officially activated on July 4th 1941. These brave Americans faced many unknowns, but what they did know was there was a nearly unstoppable enemy desolating the Chinese. They left the comfort of their lives and careers in America and sailed to the Far East to fight alongside of the Chinese people in defense of their homeland.”
The men and women of the 75th know their heritage, and much like a child or grandchild is proud of their parents, we are proud of those heroes who have worn or 75th Patch, added Joca.
“Maj Quigley was a 75th Fighter Squadron commander, one of our only Aces, and a prisoner of war for over a year, said Joca. “We take the honor of being a member of the 75th seriously, and use our incredible heritage as motivation to continue the legacy of excellence. Like the original members of the Flying Tigers, the men and women of the 75th stand ready to provide lifesaving Close Air Support at a moment’s notice.”
The American Volunteer Group were a band of pilots and maintainers from the US Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines,” said Mark Godwin, 23d Wing historian. “The AVG consisted of the 1st Squadron (Adam and Eve), 2d Squadron (Pandas), and the 3d Squadron (Hell’s Angels).
“Claire Chennault, the father of the American Volunteer Group and the Flying Tigers, took these men and women along with 99 archaic P-40 Tomahawk aircraft and taught these pilots tactics to defeat the far superior Japanese aircraft,” said Godwin.
AVG personnel, under disguise of the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO) arrived in China in the summer of 1941, and from December 20, 1941 until 4 July 1942, the American Volunteer group amassed an astonishing 10 to 1 kill ratio over Japanese aircraft. The American Volunteer Group was disbanded on July 4, 1942 and the 23d Fighter Group was stood.
Why we honor the Fallen:
“The honor of the missing man formation is one that is not afforded to most who serve ... It’s reserved for our true heroes,” said Joca. “The honor of conducting a flyover for a WW2 veteran is special as there are very few still alive from the ‘Greatest Generation’. It’s a great opportunity for those involved and those in the community to remember the sacrifices of that generation.”
When people think of Flying Tiger legends, they may think of Major General Claire Chennault, the founding father of the Flying Tigers; Brigadier General Robert Scott, the first 23d Fighter Group Commander; and Brigadier General David “Tex” Hill, American Volunteer Group pilot, 18 aerial victories, and the first 75th Fighter Squadron Commander.
Quigley should absolutely be on that list. He was shot down on Aug 10, 1944 while on his 137th mission -- only a month after taking command -- and became a POW.
Continuing the Legacy:
“No words are worthy of use in describing the honor and responsibility I feel of both carrying on the legacy of excellence of all former Shark Commanders and leading the phenomenal men and women of the 75th Fighter Squadron,” said Joca, the 58th Shark Commander.