Colonel David Lee "Tex" Hill was born the son of American missionaries on 13 July 1915 in Kwangju, Korea, but his family moved to Texas when he was 6 years old. After graduating from college in 1938, he completed naval flight school and served in a torpedo squadron aboard the Saratoga and in a squadron of dive-bombers aboard the Ranger. He was recruited in 1941 to serve in the American Volunteer Group (the original Flying Tigers) under the command of General Claire Chennault. He reported in July of that year and served as both flight leader and squadron leader of the 2nd Squadron, flying the famed P-40 Tomahawk.
After the unit was disbanded in July 1942, Hill accepted a battlefield commission as a major in the Army Air Corps (USAAC) and helped to activate the 75th Fighter Group. On Thanksgiving Day 1943, he led a force of 12 B-25s, 10 P-38s, and 8 new P-51 Mustangs from Saichwan, China, on the first strike against Formosa. The Japanese had 100 bombers and 100 fighters located at Shimchiku Airfield, and the bombers were just returning home as "Tex" Hill's force arrived. The enemy managed to get seven fighters airborne, but they were promptly shot down. Forty-two Japanese airplanes were destroyed and 12 more were probably destroyed in the attack.
The American force returned home with no casualties. He separated from the service in 1945 with 18 1/4 kills and more than 20 probables. Colonel Hill then joined the Texas Air National Guard and became the youngest brigadier general ever to serve in the National Guard. He retired in 1968. In addition to the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and two Air Medals from the USAAC, he has received numerous awards and decorations from the Chinese government.
The Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk, which displayed "tiger teeth," was the backbone of the American Volunteer Group. This band of brave men under General Claire Chennault fought along side the Chinese against the Japanese before the US entry into World War II. Although they were chased from one location to another; obtained fuel, ammunition, and supplies under haphazard arrangements; and lived in small enclaves under constant attack; the Flying Tigers took to the air again and again to devastate Japanese air armadas. During an 8-month period, a handful of heavily armed P-40s piloted by courageous and skilled aviators, such as "Tex" Hill, destroyed 297 Japanese aircraft.