John Richard Rossi was born on April 19, 1915 in Placerville, California. Schooled in San Francisco, he attended the University of California at Berkeley. He entered the Navy for flight training in the fall of 1939. Upon receiving his wings and commission in 1940, he was assigned as Flight Instructor at Pensacola, Florida.
"Dick" Rossi resigned his Navy commission in 1941 to join the American Volunteer Group (AVG) under the command of Colonel Claire Chennault. He arrived in Rangoon on November 12, 1941 with a group of thirty volunteers on the Dutch ship M.S. Bosch Fontein. He was undergoing a training program in P-40 aircraft at Toungoo, Burma, when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Rossi engaged in his first combat over Burma in January 1942 (the second time he fired the guns in the P-40 he was in combat) and flew his last over the East China front in July 1942. Most of his combat missions were over Rangoon. Dick was a member of the AVG's First Pursuit Squadron (Adam and Eve). He also did detached combat duty with the Second and Third Squadrons, serving under all the AVG squadron commanders.
When the AVG, better known as the "Flying Tigers," was disbanded in 1942, Rossi joined the China National Aviation Corporation, flying supplies from India to China. By the time the war was over he had flown more than 735 trips across the "Hump." After the war, Rossi, a founder of the freight carrier, the Flying Tiger Line, returned to California where he flew as a captain for 25 years, logging a lifetime of over 25,000 hours flying. He has served as president of the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Association for fifty years and is a member of the American Fighter Aces Association.
The Chinese government awarded Rossi the White Cloud Banner (Yun Mo) V Grade, China Air Force Wings (5 Stars), and the China War Memorial (Kang Chan Chi-nien Chang) Decoration. He has also earned and received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, a World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars for the India-Burma, Central Burma, China Defensive, and China Offensive campaigns, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button. In 1969 he was given a Commendation from the USAF for sustained aerial support of combat operations in South Vietnam. The AVG was inducted into the Confederate Air Force Hall of Fame in 1998, in Midland Texas.
Tally record: 6-1/4 kills.Back To Memorials