A San Antonio friend Tex Hill dies.

Oct. 11, 2007, 11:09PM
Renowned WWII fighter pilot "Tex" Hill dies
 

TERRELL HILLS, Texas David Lee "Tex" Hill, a World War II fighter pilot who was the youngest brigadier general in the history of the Texas Air National Guard, died Thursday. He was 92.

Hill died at his home in Terrell Hills near San Antonio, longtime friend Tibaut Bowman said.

"He was still alert and fabulous just up until when he died," said Bowman, who described himself as one of Hill's "hunting buddies, flying buddies and drinking buddies."

Hill graduated as a naval aviator in 1939, and in 1941, he joined the Flying Tigers, an American volunteer group based in China during World War II. He shot down 18 1/4 enemy aircraft during the war, Bowman said. The "quarter" came when four planes were involved in shooting down an enemy plane and each pilot was credited with one-fourth of the downing.

Hill emerged from the war a national hero. John Wayne based his character on him in the 1942 film, "The Flying Tigers," and Hill earned numerous medals, among them the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, the British Flying Cross and six Chinese combat decorations.

"He's appreciated by so many for the things that he did, and he's appreciated by me for being such a wonderful father," his daughter Shannon Schaupp said. "If I could put one label, I would say integrity."

Hill was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in 2002, 59 years after a dogfight in enemy-occupied territory in China. A three-member Air Force panel said Hill had been denied the medal because of a personality conflict between two Army generals and his boss, Brig. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault, who recommended Hill for the award.

"I can say this probably on behalf of fifty people, except for my own dad who is my personal hero, 'Tex' Hill was the biggest hero I ever had," Bowman said. "Unquestioning integrity and loyalty, purpose, determination, compassion."

A longtime San Antonian, Hill logged 3,500 hours, flew 150 combat sorties and later tested the first U.S. jets before joining the Air National Guard.

"Tex Hill was a genuine American hero and a Texan of the highest caliber," Gov. Rick Perry said. "Whether he was flying from the decks of a carrier as a naval aviator, fighting with the legendary Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group, winning a Distinguished Service Cross, or commanding the first jet unit in the Army Air Forces, he always led from the front."

Hill, who was born in Korea on July 13, 1915, was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, in 2006.

He is expected to be buried next week at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Bowman said.

In addition to his daughter Shannon Schaupp, Hill is survived by his wife, Mazie Sale Hill; daughter Lola Skinner; seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.