Dick Rossi, the Flying Tigers pilot who downed six Japanese planes during World War II and later helped preserve the history of the world-famous volunteers, has died. He was 92.
In his 65 years as president of the Flying Tigers Assn., Rossi and his wife helped organize reunions of the pilots and other Flying Tigers, and through speaking engagements helped spread awareness about their role in history.
Though the Flying Tigers were viewed as heroes, they were not seen as veterans by the U.S. government until 1991. Before then the Pentagon argued that the men were volunteers. That position changed after classified documents revealed the role of the government in forming the group.
"Not seen as veterans". They weren't the only ones who did their duty and weren't recognized officially as veterans until long after their service, like the WASPs and Merchant Marine. Some things never change in the government's battle to save money on benefits.
When I was a kid I think I read every word ever printed about the Flying Tigers. They were and are my heroes.
So long, Sir.