Fighter Ace Honored - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/16/05 - Nacogdoches County

Fighter Ace Honored

by Chris Cato

James 'Sonny' Whitaker grew up with Commander Wade. He said, "he liked to ride horses and we were just farm workers back then."

Originally from the East Texas town of Recklaw, L.C. Wade was a farmer who looked to the sky and dreamed of flying.

He left home and joined the British Royal Air Force, long before the U.S. entered WWII, as many young men did. He saw the need to fight for freedom.

During his tours he became the top American fighter pilot, achieving 25 victories which was an unprecedented number at the time.

Whittaker said, "when he came over here, President Roosevelt wanted an interview with him. And so he met with the president privately when he came over, and I understand before he went back, the president wanted him again."

Given the rank of Wing Commander by the Royal Air Force, Commander Wade said, "before the RAF my life consisted of surveying land [from the backside] of a mule. Now I have had tea with the King of England."

Commander Wade's plane went down in 1944 near Italy, but he was never honored as a great war hero by the U.S., until now.

A Texas House Resolution, Resolution 555, honored Wade as a true American hero, and a wreath laying ceremony Saturday helped pay tribute to what many say was a great man.

The rank of Wing Commander in the British Royal Air Force is equivalent to that of a Lieutenant Colonel. Commander Wade was awarded the distinguished flying cross with two bars and a distinguished service order by the RAF.

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