Last Name:   

First Name: 
William Norman
Jan 8, 1917 to Dec 19, 1944
Marion, Iowa
3rd Squadron, Hell’s Angels
Flight Leader
9 Confirmed AVG/USAAF
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Gold Stars, Air Medal with 9 Gold Stars, Chinese Cloud Banner
Pre AVG:
William Norman Reed, known to all as Bill, was born in Stone City Iowa, a small hamlet found in the eastern part of the state and made famous in Grant Wood’s painting entitled “Stone City.”  His parents, both descendants of early New Hampshire settlers, were Mary Ellen Dearborn Reed and Edward Reed.  Until the age of eighteen, he spent his entire childhood and adolescent years growing up in Marion, Iowa.  An excellent student and outstanding athlete, Bill graduated high school in 1935 and with honors from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1939.  He earned varsity letters in football and baseball and was a very fine golfer as well.
Bill joined the Army Air Corps in February of 1940, training first at Glenview, Illinois; basic training was Randolph field, Texas, and advanced training was at Kelly Field in Texas.  Commissioned a second lieutenant in October 1940, he was assigned as flight instructor at Barksdale, Louisiana.
AVG Service:

When the opportunity to go to Burma with the AVG to assist China in protecting the Burma Road arose, Bill, along with some ninety other young airmen, was granted leave of absence from service with this country, with the promise of keeping his rank.  Bill was among the almost thirty other AVGers that set sail on the ship Bloemfontein from San Francisco bound for Burma on July 21, 1941.  During the seven plus months of active duty that this young pilot spent in the 3rd Squadron, “Hell’s Angels”, he flew seventy-five missions and had three confirmed aerial victories (December 23-25), eight on the ground (March 18, 1942) and other probables.

After the disbanding of the AVG on July 4, 1942, Bill returned to Marion, arriving in September to a spectacular hero’s welcome.  Following this event he spent the next few months appearing throughout the Midwest with Hollywood celebrities promoting the sale of war bonds.
In 1943, Bill was commissioned a major; and after gunnery training, he returned to the Chinese theater to fight again under General Chennault, this time with the Chinese American Composite Wing (See “Wing to Wing” by Carl Molesworth) in the 14th U.S. Army Air Force.  While with the CACW, Bill flew sixty-six missions, with six confirmed aerial victories (making a total of nine, including the three with the AVG) nine on the ground, and many other probables and damaged.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became Commander of the Third Fighter Group.
On December 19, 1944, less than a month before his twenty-eighth birthday, Bill Reed was killed returning from a mission over Pengpu when he was forced to bail out, and the chute did not open.  Major William L. Turner, flying with Bill at the time, and also forced to bail out, stated in a letter to Bill’s mother that Bill struck the rear of the plane in bailing out.
Lieutenant Colonel Reed’s body was returned to Iowa after the end of the war, and he is buried beside his parents at Riverside Cemetery in Anamosa, Iowa.  Bill Reed is Iowa’s most decorated pilot of World War II.
-Contributed by Edward Reed, nephew of Bill Reed.
Post War Career:
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