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Lt. Col. John B. England

 

Lt. Col. John B. England was born January 15, 1923, at Caruthersville, Missouri. He enlisted in the military as a private in April 1942, and after attending aviation cadet training, he was commissioned and assigned as a fighter pilot. In November 1943, he was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force in Great Britain, where he took part in 108 combat missions for a total of 460 combat hours in the North American P-51 Mustang.

During his tour in Europe, Colonel England destroyed 19 (17.5 air) German aircraft and, on one mission, destroyed four enemy planes. For this gallantry in action, he was awarded the Silver Star. He owed part of his success to the technological advances incorporated into the P-51: the K-14 gunsight and the G-suit. On September 13, 1944 he was leading 'Dollar Squadron' (the 362nd FS) at 8000 feet when he spotted a Bf-109 in a dive. It was soon overhauled as England closed to 800 yards at an altitude of 3000 feet. Seeing that his quarry was heading for an airfield, England wound his P-51 up to 400 mph and turned tightly to close the range to 500 yards. With the K-14 (deflection-compensating gunsight) locked on, England fired, and saw the strikes on the Bf-109's engine and cockpit before it crashed. He went to down two more Bf-109s that mission.

He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters and the French Croix de Guerre. Colonel England returned to the United States in February 1945 and served with the Air Force until his death in 1954. Returning from a training flight in his F-86 "Sabre" aircraft November 21, 1954, Colonel England was killed while attempting to land at Toul Air Base, France. With the choice of trying to get over the barracks for a landing or swerving away for certain death, he choose the latter rather than risk sending other persons to their death. He turned left and crashed. Alexandria Air Force Base was renamed England Air Force Base June 23, 1955 in honor of Colonel England.

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