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Glenn Hagenbuch of the 2nd AVG

2nd Lt Glenn HagenbuchIn the fall of 1941, the 'China Lobby' in Washington DC was busy setting up a volunteer bombardment group to send to Burma to serve under Claire Chennault. Among the pilots recruited for the then-lavish pay of $600 a month was Lieutenant Glenn Hagenbuch. As he wrote his parents on November 14, 1941: 'There's been something brewing for several days now & it boiled over when the Capt called two of us into his office and broke the news. I signed my resignation & wil probably get the discharge tomorrow. We all go as civilians because they don't want any army personnel traipsing around....' Either he was blowing smoke at his parents, to cover his tracks for signing up, or the captain had a quota to meet. (It would seem that the second pilot didn't volunteer.)

Hagenbuch was a month shy of his twenty-third birthday when he signed up for the 2nd AVG. He'd graduated from a two-year junior college and trained at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa and at Randolph and Kelly fields in San Antonio, earning his wings in April 1941. (The photo shows him as a flight cadet.) He was assigned to the Ferry Command and was based at the Command's northern way station in Bangor, Maine. After a two-week home stay, he flew out to Los Angeles for his scheduled December 10 flight to Rangoon. It never happened: the December 7 attacks had launched the US into war, and Hagenbuch was promptly re-inducted into the USAAF, sent back to Bangor, and in March 1942 flew his B-17 bomber over the northern route to Scotland as part of the 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy).

He flew 25 missions, including one with Walter Cronkite as passenger. For all that, it was on a hack flight in a recently repaired P-40 fighter that Major Hagenbuch crashed and was killed on October 9, 1943.

Hat tip: George Irwin and Shiela Bishop Irwin in the Spring 2009 AAHS Journal. In an amazing turn of events, they discovered that they were both connected with Chennault's Special Air Unit, Shiela as daughter of Lew Bishop of the 1st AVG, George as Glenn Hagenbuch's third cousin. Click here for the story of the 2nd AVG.

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