11/24/2019 0 Comments
Hawaiian Flyer George W. S. Lee
Greenville Flyers came to Mississippi from across the country. Some came from as far as across the Atlantic, as was the case for RAF Flight Officers serving as instructors. For Americans serving in the war, Hawaii was the furthest and most isolated location from Greenville. That didn't prevent George W. S. Lee from finding his way to Greenville, MS, on his road to wings.
George Wah Sun Lee, a native of Honolulu, HI, and of Chinese descent, moved to Dayton, OH, in 1937 to attend the University of Dayton to study mechanical engineering. He graduated in 1941 with honors and had been a member of the Pershing Rifles. After graduation and prior to acceptance into the Army Air Corps, he spent time working at the Moore Flying Service in Vandalia, OH.
Following acceptance into the Aviation Cadet program, Lee completed Primary Flying Training and was sent to Greenville Army Flying School. Below, Lee is shown climbing into a BT-13A (s/n 41-10413) at Greenville.
Following completion of Basic Flying Training at Greenville, Lee attended Advanced Single-Engine Flying Training at Craig Field, Selma, AL. He graduated with his wings on 6 Sep 1942.
A short time later, Lee found himself in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater flying the venerable Curtiss P-40. Over the course of 62 missions in the CBI, Lee downed three Japanese aircraft and was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. The Silver Star was awarded for downing two Zeros in one day. Although he scored two kills that day, it was not without sacrifice. The engagement left him with a bullet in the leg and his P-40 was hit in the engine, forcing him to bail out.
In Lee's own words regarding that encounter (as recounted in the 12 Aug 1944 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin):
"I couldn't get any speed out of my plane, and they (the Zeros) riddled my tail assembly, got a few more 50 calibers into my engine, and put a slug into my leg.
I wasn't going to let them shoot me down like a sitting duck, so I turned, attacked them head on and sent another son of heaven to his glory."
Lee was forced to bail out of his stricken plane. His story continued:
"Some Chinese farmers saw me come down and came over to help me. It wasn't until one of them pointed to the blood on my clothes that I realized I had been hit. With their help, I picked out the slug that was still in my leg.
Also with their aid I made it back to my base in 11 days and was soon fit to go after the Jap again."
Following his service in the Pacific, Capt. Lee was assigned as the Assistant Flight Line Maintenance Officer at Richmond Army Air Base, Richmond, VA. At the time of this writing, his exact whereabouts and fate following this assignment are unknown. Some newspaper legal notices suggest he may have died in 1947, while other inconclusive genealogical sources suggest he may still be alive.
If you have any information regarding Mr. George Wah Sun Lee, please share his story here.