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First Lieutenant John A. Tilley

First Lieutenant John A. Tilley

First Lieutenant John A. Tilley

Born an "Army Brat" on 30 June 1923 at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, John Alden Tilley called Mill, California his home until joining the Army Air Forces in March 1942. He completed pilot training at Douglas, Arizona, and was commissioned a second lieutenant on 6 February 1943.

Following fighter transition with the 329th Fighter Group at Glendale, California in November 1943, Tilley was sent to the Southwest Pacific and assigned as a P-38 pilot with the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group at Dobodura, New Guinea. He flew his first combat mission on 15 December 1943 and scored his first victory the next day over Cape Gloucester, New Britain. He downed a Betty bomber on his third mission, damaged an Oscar on 18 January 1944, and shot down an Oscar over Noemfoor Island on 17 May. While at Dobodura, he designed the "Red Devil" insignia of the 431st Squadron.

The 475th moved to Biak in July and flew escort missions and fighter sweeps to the Southern Philippines. Moving to the Philippines in October, they strafed Japanese airfields and installations and engaged in aerial combat during the first stages of the Allied campaign to recover the Philippines.

Tilley didn't score again until 11 December when he was credited with destroying a Zeke over north Cebu. He shot down a Jack on Christmas Day and became an ace the next day with the destruction of a Zeke 52, twenty miles northwest of Clark Field. He flew his 159th and last combat mission on 18 April 1945 from the 431st Squadron's base at Lingayan Gulf, Luzon, Philippines.

Tilley left active duty on 28 June 1950, but remained in the Air Force Reserves until 1957 when he resigned as a major.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed
1 Damaged 

Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters 

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