Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

2002

Eagle Biography

Charles H. Older

Charles H. "Chuck" Older, a triple ace in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, served his country as a pilot for four different military organizations in two different wars. Born in California in 1917, Older graduated from the University of California at Los Angles in 1939. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and designated a Naval Aviator on 1 April 1940. In July 1941, he left Marine Fighting Squadron One (VMF-1) and resigned his commission to join a group of pilots and ground personnel dedicated to defending the Burma Road, the only supply line open from the west to war-weary China.

This group of volunteers, formed under the command of General Claire Chennault, became known as the American Volunteer Group or AVG. In October, after sailing more than a month on a Dutch ship, he and 35 other Americans arrived in Burma. Within a few days Older was assigned to the 3d Pursuit Squadron, "Hell's Angels, " and began flying the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk. Chennault taught Older how to fly the P-40 effectively when fighting against more agile Japanese aircraft. On 23 December 1941, near Rangoon, Burma, Older shot down the first of two aircraft on his way to becoming the third highest scoring "Flying Tiger" ace, with 10.25 confirmed aerial victories. After the AVG disbanded on 4 July 1942, Older returned to the U.S. and soon thereafter was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army Air Forces. In June 1944, he flew and fought in the China-Burma-India Theater again-this time with the 23d Fighter Group under the command of General Chennault.

During this second tour, Older served as group operations officer and deputy group commander, and was credited with eight more aerial victories. Following WWII, Older again served his country when he was recalled for service as a Martin B-26 Marauder pilot during the Korean War. With military duty behind him, he graduated from the University of Southern California Law School in 1952 and began a distinguished career in law. He was admitted to the Bar, all California courts, and all U.S. Federal Courts including the Supreme Court. In 1968, Older was appointed to the Superior Court in Los Angeles where he served for 20 years. During that appointment, he presided over one of the most famous trials in the American judicial system, The People vs. Charles Manson.

His military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters, The British Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, two Chinese Air Force Medals, and two Chinese Order of the Cloud Banners. He and his wife, the former Catherine Ellen Day, live in Los Angles, California.

See the Lithograph
2002
Lithograph Setting

In 1941, before the United States entered World War II, a unique group of American pilots joined Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group (AVG). Flying Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks in the China-Burma-India theater, the AVG was the first "American" unit to fight Axis forces during World War II. These "Flying Tigers," often outnumbered 10 to 1 by the enemy, compiled an incredible record of 299 enemy planes destroyed and another 153 "probable," while losing only 4 pilots and 12 planes in aerial combat!

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