David Lee "Tex" Hill, a triple ace with more than 18 confirmed victories, was the first North American P-51B Mustang pilot to shoot down a Japanese Oscar. Born in 1915 in Kwangju, Korea, Hill is the son of American missionaries and grew up in Texas. Upon graduating from Austin College in 1938, he entered the US Navy as an aviation cadet. He earned his wings and commission at Pensacola NAS in 1939 and then served 2 years aboard the USS Saratoga, flying the Douglas TBD Devastator in Torpedo Squadron Three (VT-3).
Hill's next assignment was to Bombing Squadron Four (VB-4) flying the Vought SB2U Vindicator from the USS Ranger. In March 1941, a shipmate talked Hill into joining Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the famed "Flying Tigers." Hill left the Navy and made the six-week boat trip to Burma. Serving first as flight leader and then as Commander of AVG's 2d Squadron, Hill flew the Curtis P-40 Tomahawk over Burma, China, and Thailand, and was credited with 12¼ aerial victories. When the AVG disbanded in July 1942, Hill remained in China and took command of the 75th Fighter Squadron. On 25 November 1943, while commanding the 23rd Fighter Group, he led a force of fighters and medium bombers on a surprise raid against a Japanese airfield on the island of Formosa.
It was on this mission that he became the first Mustang pilot to shoot down an Oscar. Hill returned to the States in November 1944 credited with 18¼ aerial victories and more than 20 probable victories. He spent the rest of the war as Commander of the 412th Fighter Group, the first jet unit in the US Army Air Forces (USAAF), flying the first American built jets, the Bell P-59 Airacomet and the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. He left the USAAF in 1945 and joined the Texas Air National Guard to command the 58th Fighter Wing. At age 31, Hill became the youngest brigadier general in the history of the Guard.
Shortly thereafter, he joined the Air Force Reserve's 433rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Kelly AFB, Texas. He retired in 1968 with over 3,500 flying hours, including more that 150 flown in combat. His numerous decorations include the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and two Air Medals. He also earned a British Distinguished Flying Cross and numerous awards and decorations from the Chinese government. On 25 May 2002, Hill was presented the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism against the enemy in the China Theater. He is an avid sportsman, a gourmet cook, and active member of the Flying Tigers Association, the Order of Daedalians, and American Fighter Aces.
On 25 November 1943, Tex Hill led a force of North American P-51B Mustangs and North American B-25 Mitchells on a surprise raid against Formosa's Shinchiku Airdrome. The Japanese had 100 bombers and 100 fighters located at this field. The bomber force was just returning home as Hill's force arrived. The enemy managed to get seven fighters airborne, but t hey were promptly shot down. Forty-two aircraft were destroyed in all and 12 more were probably destroyed in the attack, while the American force returned home with no casualties.