Major Melvin Kimball, USAAF

Major Melvin Kimball, USAAF

Major Melvin Kimball is a World War II P-40 ace who was born in Providence and grew up in Greystone. He graduated from Hope High School in 1935, where he was a state champion wrestler. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1939, excelling in football and track.

Kimball was one of the original pilots who secretly boarded the aircraft carrier USS Ranger at Quonset Point in early 1942, then flew their P-40s off the flight deck to land in Africa, the first leg of their journey to China.

Kimball and his fellow China Air Service pilots flew with Chennault and the American Volunteer Group, better known as the “Flying Tigers” until July 4, 1942, when they officially took over the AVG duties. In early 1943, Kimball was involved in one of the most dramatic rescue efforts of the war, one that was featured in True Comics.

During his service, he earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and several Air Medals for gallantry in addition to his designation as an ace. Kimball died in Riverside in 2004.

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