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Flying Tiger ace Edward Franklin Rector was born on 28 September 1916 in Marshall, North Carolina. He grew up there and subsequently entered Catawba College, where he graduated in 1938. joined the Navy in 1939, was accepted for flight training, and graduated at Pensacola with a reserve commission as an ensign in June 1940.
Flying SB2U-2s off the USS Ranger with VB-4 in June 1941, Rector and two other VB-4 pilots were recruited for an "American Volunteer Group" to protect the Chinese "Burma Road" from Japanese attack and were soon on a ship headed for the Far East Assigned to the AVG's second squadron, he participated in the Flying Tigers' first combat on 20 December 1941 and was credited with the AVG's first victory, a Lily bomber downed near Kunming.
Over the next six months, Rector shot down another bomber and two fighters, shared in the destruction of a bomber and observation aircraft, and was credited with a "probable" fighter. When the Flying Tigers were disbanded on 4 July 1942, Vice Squadron Leader Ed Rector was one of five AVG pilots to stay on with the newly-formed 23rd Fighter Group. Promoted to major, he was given command of the 76th Fighter Squadron. He shot down two more fighters while with the 76th, on 25 September 1942, before returning to the United States.
He returned to China in 1945, was promoted to colonel and given command of the 23rd Fighter Group. His last aerial victory came on 2 April 1945. Colonel Rector remained in China following the war, serving with the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) until Chiang Kai-shek was driven from the mainland in 19 47. He later served in a variety of command and staff positions before retiring from the Air Force in June 1962 to become an aviation and communications consult
Tally record: 10 ½ , one probable.
Decorations: Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying
Cross, Air Medal, Chinese Order of the White Cloud and
Banner, and British Distinguished Flying Cross