“Dick” Rossi resigned his Navy commission in 1941 to join the American Volunteer Group (AVG) under the command of Colonel Claire Chennault. He arrived in Rangoon on November 12, 1941 with a group of thirty volunteers on the Dutch ship M.S. Bosch Fontein. He was undergoing a training program in P-40 aircraft at Toungoo, Burma, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Rossi engaged in his first combat over Burma in January 1942 (the second time he fired the guns in the P-40 he was in combat) and flew his last over the East China front in July 1942. Most of his combat missions were over Rangoon. Dick was a member of the AVG’s First Pursuit Squadron (Adam and Eve). He also did detached combat duty with the Second and Third Squadrons, serving under all the AVG squadron commanders.
When the AVG, better known as the “Flying Tigers,” was disbanded in 1942, Rossi joined the China National Aviation Corporation, flying supplies from India to China. By the time the war was over he had flown more than 735 trips across the “Hump.” After the war, Rossi, a founder of the freight carrier, the Flying Tiger Line, returned to California where he flew as a captain for 25 years, logging a lifetime of over 25,000 hours flying. He has served as president of the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Association for fifty years and is a member of the American Fighter Aces Association.
The Chinese government awarded Rossi the White Cloud Banner (Yun Mo) V Grade, China Air Force Wings (5 Stars) and the China War Memorial (Kang Chan Chi-nien Chang) Decoration. He has also earned and received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, a World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars for the India-Burma, Central Burma, China Defensive and China Offensive campaigns, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button. In 1969 he was given a Commendation from the USAF for sustained aerial support of combat operations in South Vietnam. The AVG will be inducted into the Confederate Air Force Hall of Fame in 1998, in Midland Texas.
Tally record: 6 - 1/4 kills.
After around a year on the web, our site WW II Ace Stories has for the first time been honoured by the inclusion of a first-hand account from a witness - or, preferably, a hero - of these dramatic days. We are proud to present this first-hand story with a personal and most vivid account of the activities of the AVG - the "Flying Tigers" - in the very hard combats with Japan. These combats were fought during a time characterized by Japanese superiority, under the most difficult battle conditions. Still, the "Flying Tigers" achieved successes that were absolutely rare for that period.
We would like to forward our special gratitude to Mrs. Lydia Rossi for her kind contact and most generous support, and to Mr. Dick Rossi for an excellent and most interesting piece of aviation literature!
Due to the large amount of text (in reality, it is nothing less than a small book…), and for the comfort of the visitors to our site, this story is divided into two chapters of around 30 Kb each. So please wait patiently if the transfer is slow. We promise that it is worth waiting for!