Johnny Alison, Father of Air Force Special Operations, Dies

Ret. Maj. Gen. John R. Alison, a highly decorated World War II combat ace, Korean War veteran, and lifetime airpower advocate, died Monday at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 98. “General Alison was one of the greatest military aviators the US has ever seen and a true asset to our country,” said Sandy Schlitt, AFA Chairman of the Board. Born in Micanopy, Fla., on Nov. 21, 1912, Alison entered the Army Air Corps after graduating from the University of Florida in 1936. He served on active duty and later in the Air Force Reserve until his retirement in 1972. Alison’s World War II achievements include six official kills while flying with, and commanding, the 75th Fighter Squadron, part of the famed “Flying Tigers,” in the China-Burma-India theater. He later became co-commander of the newly formed 1st Air Commando Group—the first in military history—that fought behind Japanese lines in Burma. He is credited with being the father of Air Force special operations. After the war, he served as the assistant secretary of commerce for aeronautics in the Truman Administration before returning to service during the Korean War. He served as AFA’s President from 1954 to 1955 and as AFA’s Chairman of the Board from 1955 to 1956. He remained engaged in AFA as director emeritus thereafter. In 2005, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He was a founding Member of the Air Force Memorial Foundation. (For more on Alison, see Valor: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done and The All-American Airman from Air Force Magazine’s archives.) (See also AFA release.)