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WW2 hero pilot John Alison dead at 98

June 8, 2011 at 1:19 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Air Force Major Gen. John R. Alison, who led a mission to create an airbase behind Japanese lines in World War II, has died.

Alison was 98 when he died Monday in Washington, The Washington Post reported. His family released no cause of death.

After enlisting in the Army and being trained as a pilot, Alison spent more than 30 years in the military. He retired in 1972 after serving as an adviser with the Strategic Air Command in Vietnam.

Alison's World War II experience ranged from training Soviet pilots to service with Major Gen. Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers in China. He shot down seven Japanese planes.

But his greatest moment was "Project 9." Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, head of Army Air Forces, picked Alison and Philip Cochran in 1943 to head a mission to deliver British soldiers and equipment by glider behind enemy lines in Burma.

When the mission was carried out in 1944, more than 9,000 men, 175 horses, more than 1,200 mules and half a million tons of supplies were delivered in six days. Arnold said the British had "enough to make a modern airport deep in the jungle."

Alison received the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart.

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