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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Decorated WWII pilot dies

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

World War II pilot John Ross appears in a 2011 Times-Gazette report about a documentary planned on his life.
(T-G File Photo) [Order this photo]
Local veteran Ike Farrar is mourning the loss of his friend John Ross of Manchester, who died Aug. 6 of cancer.

"He was one of the most decorated pilots of World War II," said Farrar in a hand-written remembrance. "He flew 96 missions, [was] shot down three times, spent 24 hours in [the] North Sea when they said 30 minutes was all anyone could stand due to chill."

Spy missions

Ross plew the P-38 spy plane during the war, and the reconnaissance he provided helped win the Battle of the Bulge. He was interviewed by a production company for what was intended to be a documentary about his life; the documentary's web site, however, does not appear to have been updated since last October.

Ross flew some missions with Francis Gary Powers, who would later be the focus of an international incident when his U2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union.

Ross's P-38 was one of several sent out to determine the location of German troops prior to what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Only Ross's plane returned, and he defied bad weather to land the plane so that its critical photography could be sent to the Generals.


Ross's reconaissance flights also helped Allied bombers distinguish between military targets and cultural landmarks such as cathedrals which the Allies sought to avoid when possible.

Ross eventually settled in Manchester. Farrar said he was a regular guest at Flat Creek Community Club events whenever there was country or bluegrass music as a program. Ross was also grand marshal of the Bedford County Veterans Day parade in 2000.