Tales of the Flying Tigers

Distinguished Flying Cross
When I first heard from Lacy Mangleburg's cousin, who was trying to get the medal promised when the AVG was finally recognized as part of the US military, I suggested that he cut out the middleman and go straight to his U.S. senator or representative, whose local offices I have always found to be a great help. (It's sad but true that the bureaucracy tends to ignore the folks who actually pay their salaries, but leaps to attention when an email comes in from Capitol Hill.) Sure enough, on July 27, 2007, a lieutenant colonel in the wonderfully named Congressional Inquiry Division wrote the Senator that Lacy was indeed entitled to the Distinguished Flying Cross "for extraordinary achievement, while participating in aerial flight, for the period of 7 December 41 to 18 July 42." Here's the medal the family received. Note that Mangleburg's first name is spelled with an "e" in most AVG histories. "Lacy", however, is how his family spelled it. -- Daniel Ford

Lacy Mangleburg writes home

Mangleburg's Christmas envelope Lacy Mangleburg trained as a P-40 pilot with the 20th Pursuit Group at Hamilton Field, California. He resigned to join the AVG and went to Burma with the rest of the gang. He made a threesome with Erik Shilling and Ken Merritt, and together they were to fly three CW-21 "Demon" interceptors from Rangoon to Kunming. Before that, however, he mailed a Christmas card to his cousin in Atlanta. Here's the envelope, complete with King George's profile and the censor's stamp. The timing is heart-breaking, because on Christmas Eve, Lacy was killed try to crash-land his airplane in a mountain stream.

And here's a letter he wrote the previous spring, before the AVG recruiter came knocking on his door. It was mailed from Hamilton Field on March 31, 1941. (The photo is from a newspaper article published when he earned his wings as a pilot.)

55th Pursuit Sqdn.

Dear Charles and Martha

Mangleburg earns his wings I've been here now since November 8th [1940] and am getting a trifle tired of this part of the country. 'Tisn't near what the Chamber of Commerce would have you believe. So I've put in for a transfer back to that part of the country. I have about a 50/50 chance of getting it.

This field [is] equipped with P-36s & P-40s. I started off in P-36s, but my last 50 hours have been in P-40s. I guess you know what those planes are. The P-40 is the most advanced of the Curtiss Hawk line and is the standard Army Fighter. Powered by Allison of 1050 h.p., etc. The Allison isn't very satisfactory as yet. Several of the boys have had to "bail out" when their motors quit and caught on fire. Two of the boys in the B.O.Q. (Bachelor Officer's Quarters) here with me were killed in a mid-air crash of two P-40s, Monday. Our flying consists of formation, gunnery, and interception problems with bombers from March Field--400 miles from here, near Los Angeles [now Los Angeles International Airport]. They come up to drop some bombs in the bay; we try to theoretically shoot them down before they succeed. I don't know when I'll get home again if this transfer doesn't go thru. Now, don't accuse me of not writing again. It's up to you to answer.

Love to you three,

P.S. Hope the discourse on flying didn't bore you.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

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