LTC John Lyman “Mr. Death” Whitehead Jr.

LTC John Lyman “Mr. Death” Whitehead Jr.

Lawrenceville, Brunswick County, Virginia, USA
Death 6 Sep 1992 (aged 68)
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, USA
Burial Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA
Plot 34, 832
Memorial ID 3858584 · View Source
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332nd Fighter Group - Awarded First Place In The Conventional (Propeller) Aircraft Division


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Lt. Colonel Whitehead was a Member of the 301st Fighter Squadron/332nd Fighter Group - 15th U. S. Army Air Force. He graduated at Tuskegee University's Flight School in Class 44-H-SE 09/08/1944 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. and Fighter Pilot.

He was assigned to combat in Europe in March 1945 and he flew his P-51 Mustang on nineteen (19) Combat Escort Missions in support of Strategic Bombing Campaign Missions flown deep into Europe and Nazi Germany. On 24 March 1945 the 332nd Fighter Group and the bombers it escorted flew a 1600 mile round trip to bomb the Daimler-Benz Tank Works in Berlin, and, the 332nd F.G. shot down three (3) German Me-262 jet fighter aircraft on that day.

2nd Lt. Whitehead (Nickname "Mr. Death") served from Ramitelli Airfield, Italy, which was one of the airfields which comprised the Foggia Airfield Complex (i.e., the twelve major Military Airfields located within a 25 mile radius of Foggia, Italy).

During WWII the 332nd Fighter Group destroyed 112 Nazi airplanes in the air, 150 Nazi airplanes on the ground, as well as 950 railcars, trucks, and other motor vehicles destroyed. Sixty-six (66) of their pilots were killed in action or in accidents. Thirty-two (32) of their pilots were downed and captured - POWs. Approximately 1000 Fighter Pilots were graduated from Tuskegee University during World War II. John L. Whitehead completed his WWII service at the rank of Captain.

In 1948 he became the first African-American Test Pilot in the history of the U. S. Air Force and in 1949 he became the first African-American Instructor Pilot in the history of the U. S. Air Force. Lt. Colonel Whitehead also served during the Korean War and during the Vietnam War and retired in 1974.

Lt. Colonel Whitehead was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with five (5) oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with seven (7) oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and, many other World War II, Korean War, and, Vietnam War Medals during his twenty-eight (28) year military career.

Bio by: pm

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  • Maintained by: CRob
  • Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Office
  • Added: 3 Mar 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 3858584
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for LTC John Lyman “Mr. Death” Whitehead Jr. (14 May 1924–6 Sep 1992), Find a Grave Memorial no. 3858584, citing Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, Riverside County, California, USA ; Maintained by CRob (contributor 47339965) .