Dirk L. “Dick” Asjes is a most distinguished pioneering aviator from the Netherlands. He was born on 21 July 1911, in Soerabaja, on the island of Java in the Netherlands East Indies. Leaving the East Indies in 1929 to study in the Netherlands, he entered into and received a commission in the Netherlands Army Infantry in 1930. Later transferring to the Netherlands Army Air Force, he received his pilot wings at Soesterberg in 1931. During the 1930s, he served as a military flight instructor, test pilot, international race flyer, and mail flight pioneer.
His 1933 flight in the unique Pander S4, a fast, streamlined, trimotor monoplane from Amsterdam to Batavia, Dutch East Indies, proved the concept of direct airmail routes from Europe to Southeast Asia. Prior to World War II, Asjes entered civilian life with the Royal Dutch Oil Group and was mobilized in the East Indies in 1940 as an instructor in multi-engine bombers. He subsequently conducted bombing missions in the export versions of the Martin B-10 against advancing Japanese forces until ordered to Australia in 1942 to organize a Dutch flying school. The school soon reorganized at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Asjes was appointed Chief of Primary Training. Later, he served as Chief, Operational Training, at the Dutch Military Flying School in Jackson, Mississippi.
In December 1943, he led 17 B-25 Mitchells from Mississippi to Australia. In early 1944, he was appointed Operations Officer and later Commander of an all-Dutch B-25 squadron. Operating from Darwin, Australia, he flew 47 combat missions in B-25s against the Japanese. At war’s end, he was Chief of the POW and Civilian Internees Recovery for the Netherlands East Indies. In April 1946, Asjes returned to the Netherlands to help organize his nation’s new air force. He reentered civilian life and the reserve forces in December 1946. Serving in various positions with the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Group in Venezuela and Trinidad, he rose to Board of Directors of the Company in 1955 and to President and General Director of the Mexican Eagle Oil Company from 1958 to 1965.
He returned to the Netherlands in September 1965 where he held various distinguished military, civil, and government positions. General Asjes has accumulated 19,000 flying hours in 160 different types of aircraft over 52 years of active flying. Among his many military decorations, Asjes received his nation’s highest award for valor–the Knight Militare Willemsorder.