WASHINGTON (AP) — John R. Alison, a World War II fighter pilot who helped lead a daring and unprecedented Allied air invasion of Burma, has died, a son said Wednesday.

The retired Air Force major general and former Northrop Corp. executive died of natural causes Monday at his home in Washington, John R. Alison III said.

Alison’s wartime achievements included seven victories, six in the air, qualifying him as an ace, according to the Air Force Association, an independent organization in Arlington, Va., that promotes public understanding of aerospace power.

Alison was chosen in 1943 by Army Air Forces commander Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold for a top-secret mission that flew more than 9,000 troops, nearly 1,300 mules and 250 tons of supplies behind enemy lines in Burma over six days, according to a Nov. 2009 article in the association’s Air Force Magazine.

As deputy commander of the mission dubbed Operation Thursday, Alison piloted the first in a group of Waco CG-4A glider planes that were towed by C-47 transports and released to make risky jungle landings. Of 67 gliders that departed the first night, 32 arrived, 20 were lost en route and 15 turned back, according to the magazine article.

Alison’s military decorations included the Army Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Order presented by King George VI of Great Britain.

Alison was born Nov. 21, 1912, in Micanopy, Fla.

His son said Alison will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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