Friends of the 475th
Captain Jack M. Ilfrey
Jack Milton Ilfrey, born on 31 July 1918 in Houston, Texas, attended Texas A&M College before entering the Army Air Corps. He graduated from flight training on 12 December 1941 at Luke Field, Arizona with Class 41-1 and was assigned to the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron of the 1st Fighter Group.
Ilfrey went to England with the group in the spring of 1942 and then went on to North Africa following the Allied invasion in November 1942. Flying a P-38 Lightning named "Happy Jack's Go-Buggy", he was credited with a half share of an Me-110 shot down returning from a strike on Gabes Airdrome on 29 November. Three days later he destroyed two Me-109s over Gabes and on 26 December, leading a flight in the Bizerte-Tunis area, he downed two FW-190s five miles west of Bizerte. He damaged an Me-109 on 11 January 1943 and became an ace on 3 March, credited with the destruction of one 109 and a half share on a second one west of El Aouina.
Returning to the U.S. in April 1943, Ilfrey reported to the replacement training unit at Santa Ana, California where he trained pilots in the P-38 and P-47. Promoted to captain, in March 1944 he went back to combat in England as commander of the 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, based at Kings Cliffe. There he scored two more victories, a pair of Me-109s downed over Elberswalde on 24 May 1944. On 12 June he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, but managed to avoid the Germans by hiding in the hedgerows that dotted the French countryside. Hidden by a French family, he eventually made his way back to the Allied lines, riding a bicycle and taking the identity of "Jacques Robert", a deaf-mute Frenchman.
Ilfrey left the service following World War II, and returned to his native Texas, where he entered the banking business.
TALLY RECORD: 7 1/2 Confirmed and 2 Damaged
DECORATIONS: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with 13 OLCs