Long-time North Kingstown resident William Grosvenor Jr. (1920-1980) was born in Providence and attended St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA. He entered Harvard to study geography and geology with the class of 1942, listing his home address as Ruggles Avenue in Newport. Fascinated with both sailing and flying, he serviced airplanes for W. E. Wiggins Airways and earned his private pilot’s license at Norwood airport.
He left college in November, 1940, to enlist in the Army Air Corps. He received his wings and was commissioned on July 12, 1941. Two weeks later he joined the 22nd Pursuit Squadron in Puerto Rico, training on the P-36 and P-40. Three days after Pearl Harbor he was assigned to the 51st Fighter Squadron in Panama, flying security patrols over the Panama Canal.
In November 1942 he arrived in China where he flew 132 missions (286 combat hours) under General Chennault with the 75th Pursuit Squadron, the “Flying Tiger Sharks”. (This was the group that took over from the AVG, or Flying Tigers.) On this tour he had 5 confirmed kills and 3 probables.
He returned to the US, and with another ace helped form the Air Commandos. He returned to combat with the 2nd Air Commando Group in 1944, serving as Squadron Commander and flying more another 60 missions (273 combat hours) in the India/Burma/Thailand area. He added 2 confirmed kills and several more probables. Bill was awarded many medals for valor and outstanding service, including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (3 clusters), Bronze Star, and Air Medal (4 clusters).
During his flying career he survived three air crashes, and was the first pilot to survive while ejecting upside down from a P-40. On another occasion he was rescued by the OSS in China. He continued to serve in the Reserve after the war, eventually attaining the rank of LTC. He worked for Sealol Corporation in Warwick, for more than 30 years, seldom speaking of his combat achievements. He died in a boating accident at the age of 60 in 1980.
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- Richard Warren Blackman
Alabama-born Richard Warren Blackman (1939—2013) made a major contribution to aviation in RI through
his lengthy service with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).
- Paul Broadnax
Paul Broadnax, the child of two well-known and influential Boston-area classical musicians, played with the Tuskegee Airmen military band and dance band.
- William Grosvenor Jr.
Long-time North Kingstown resident William Grosvenor Jr. (1920-1980) was born in Providence and attended St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA. In November 1942 he arrived in China where he flew 132 missions (286 combat hours) under General Chennault with the 75th Pursuit Squadron, the “Flying Tiger Sharks”.
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The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”
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Barrington natives James Allen (1824-1897) and his younger brother Ezra Allen (1840 – 1902) distinguished themselves through a lifelong commitment to aeronautics in the 19th century.
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Pawtucket native Thomas G. Corcoran (1899-1981) played a pivotal role in the establishment of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers.
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Bertrand “Bert” T. Cournoyer (1919-1967) was born and raised in Manville, RI. During WWII, Bert served as a French interpreter for General Claire Lee Chennault in Kunming, China.
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