ALLEN MURRAY WRIGHT (1920? - 1943)
(CNAC 1942 - December 18, 1943)
(Captain - March 1943)
(Hump Flights - XXX)

In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, Allen listed his address as:


From Gene Banning's notes of 8/31/00:
"... AVG; pro to capt 3/43; killed in crash on letdown into Suifu, 12/18/43, plane #83."

Robert M. Smith, With Chennault In China, gives the accident date as 10 December 1943.

NOTE: date was 12/18/43.

Memorial to a Tiger
by Earl Willoughby
(Photos Coutesey of Earl Willoughby)

In 1929, the year of the "Great Crash", a young boy named Allen Murray Wright received a perfect attendance certificate from his school. On top of the certificate was the image of an eagle hovering over a cloudbank and clutching the American flag. The document read in part, "This world is crying for good who can be trusted, men on whom a city, a state, a nation, a world can rely." Young Allen was destined to be one of those men.

He moved to Dyersburg when he was still a young man and lived on the north end of Cherry Street. My grandparents happened to work with Allen's mother at that time. His younger brother "Booner" use to deliver the "State Gazette" and as it happened, my grandparents were also on "Booner's" route, so occasionally the boys would stop in and eat dinner. During the summer the boys spent a week-end with the family down on the Obion. All of the sudden one day Allen was missing and Grandmother was terrified that he had fallen into the river, but sometime after dark Allen showed up at the house, seems that he had caught a ride with some fellow and toured the countryside. I suppose he caught the spirit of adventure at an early age. Though I had grown up hearing of Allen and "Booner", I did not hear the full story of Allen's flying career until years later.

Off to Flying School
He had graduated from Dyersburg High School in 1937 and after two years of college enlisted in the expanding Army Air Corp. Passing 36 weeks of training, he received his wings and his commission at Kelly Field. While stationed at Cochran Field in Georgia he would sometimes fly through Dyersburg. Grandmother recalled that one day he was flying overhead and he spotted her hanging out the daily wash, Allen dove the plane toward the house and buzzed along at tree tops. Grandmother threw the wash in the air and scrambled for the house. She did not learn till later that the pilot was one of the Wright boys having a little fun at her expense. On a different trip Allen and another flier decided to land at the local airport. Allen came in just fine, but the other pilot overshot the runway and nosed his plane over into the grass. This caused quite a stir in Dyersburg and spectators flocked down the Finley Highway to see the cracked up plane. Upon learning that two more army planes were on their way to town the police closed off the field to traffic, though crowds of on-lookers waded across the dusty field to get a closer look.

Joining the Flying Tigers
After a short tour as an instructor at Maxwell Field in Georgia, Allen volunteered for service in China and soon left San Francisco bound for the port of Rangoon. Here again, he became a flight instructor, but this time training cadets of the Chinese Air Force at Iping. During his stay at the base he logged over 186 hours in the air. As the war dragged on he enlisted in the American Volunteer Group, or the Flying Tigers as they were more commonly known. He flew a P-40 in the lst Pursuit Squadron known as the Adam & Eve squadron. While with the unit Allen flew a number of combat missions, shooting down one Japanese plane and sharing credit for shooting down another. On another occasion Allen had his plane shot up and had to come in for a crash landing, where he injured his back. He continued to with the Tigers until they were disbanded on July the 4th, 1942.

Unknown and Al Wright in his AVG uniform
China - 1942

Captain All M. Wright and his wife Doris Ozment Wright

Returning to China
Allen returned home long enough to marry Doris Ozment, the former Miss Dyersburg of 1939. He bought a Ford Coupe and the Wrights moved to Miami Beach, there Allen got in some deep sea fishing while he was waiting to go to work flying supplies over the "Burma Hump". This was to be a dangerous job trekking across the mountains to re-supply the Chinese. Allen arrived in Calcutta and began flying cargo for the China National Aviation Corporation. On December l8th, 1943, while on one of these missions, he and a flight of five planes left Dinjam for Iping where he had first served in China. The day was clear except for the fog that carpeted the Yantze Valley. Usually the fog would burn off as the day wore on, but upon the arrival of the flight, the fog still had not cleared. Mr. Bond of the C. N. A. C. wrote Allen's family of the final events. "The tops of the hills were sticking out above the fog. Apparently he thought that his knowledge of the country was sufficient for him to make a safe letdown and find the airport. In fact, he sent a message to the other planes in the flight saying he would let down and place his plane on the far end of the runway and send the other planes a radio beam, which they could follow to come down safely. It meant to him the difference between completing his flight and accomplishing his mission or not, and that was a lot to him."

At about 8:40 a.m., Allen, in plane number 83, crashed in Funganshih Mountain and was killed, as was Capt. Loh who had gone in after him trying to find out what had happened. The remaining three planes changed course and headed for Chengtu.

Today Allen is still remembered by many in the Dyersburg area and as it turns out also by the people of China. Only last year his daughter Gail went to China and visited some of the places her father had been during the war. The Chinese Embassy sent a letter before the trip stating in part, " We've learned of the heroic deeds of Mr. Allen M. Wright, a volunteer pilot of the Flying Tigers to fight against the Japanese aggressors along with the Chinese people. It is quite meaningful and full of great significance, especially to the education of our younger generation to conduct various activities to commemorate Mr. Allen Wright a hero of Dyersburg. I should say that the Chinese government and people have always cherished the memory of those who once made contributions to their just war against the Japanese aggressors."

Today you will find no towering monuments dedicated to Allen or any of the World War II veterans of Dyer County, instead Allen Like so many other veterans of that war lies buried at Fairview Cemetery, with only a small bronze plaque marking his grave. There are no trees shading the grave, but perhaps it is fitting that he lies under the unobstructed that sky he loved so well. Next time you find yourself driving down Shelby Drive, you might look over your shoulder and remember a local boy that died so far from home. The memory of what he and others of his generation accomplished is likely the only real monument they will ever have.

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