United States Tribute Spitfire
Major General Carroll W. McColpin
November 15th 1914–November 28th 2003
Major General Carroll McColpin was from Buffalo, New York. Born in 1914, he began flying at the age of 14. As a high school boy he built his own plane and taught himself to fly. He became aware that Britain was fighting to repel the Germans in their conquest of Europe, and felt that the U.S. would sooner or later become involved in the war, rather than wait and take a chance on becoming a 'ground soldier', and despite official US disapproval, going via Canada to England, he joined the Royal Air Force in November 1940. He had pilot certification and over 475 hours of flight time. Like others with considerable flight time, he had no desire to spend the long tour in the mandatory U.S. Aviation Cadet Training Programme when he was already an experienced aviator. He was sent to Dallas, Texas, for flight training in the RCAF prior to being sent to England to an Operational Training Unit as a Pilot Officer.
He eventually served in all three RAF Eagle Squadrons, becoming CO of No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and he soon had five aerial victories to his credit.
As a Major he, with Chesley Peterson and Gus Daymond, became the first Eagle Squadron pilots to receive the British DFC on 4 October 1941.
On 25 September 1942 he was ordered to London to discuss transferring to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He turned No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron over to Flight Lieutenant Edward Brettell.
Carroll always set up his plane as he wanted it, and he wanted his plane whenever he was scheduled to fly. He had an impressive career with 12 enemy aircraft destroyed. He had flown Hurricanes and Spitfires, and served three tours in the European Theatre of Operations as Commanding Officer of the 407th Fighter-Bomber Group and then 404th Fighter Group.
His awards include the Air Force Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, both the U.S. and British Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, and both the Belgian and French Croix de Guerre. He was a double ace before Pearl Harbour and was the first American to be decorated in Buckingham Palace by King George VI.
Major General McColpin died in November 2004.