30ºF

Meet the last of the Flying Tigers WWll Air Force group Veteran

photo
(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BEDFORD (WSLS10) - A man who served his country more than 50 years ago has a unique story to tell.

Norman Pedigo is the last of the Flying Tigers.

The group was the first American volunteer group of pilots to fly in World War Two.

Norman Pedigo is 92-year-olds.

He rummages through ancient pictures. "That's me and my airplane," Pedigo commented he was only 19-years-old in the picture.

Pedigo's time as a Flying Tiger brought him to different corners of the world during World War Two.

"I spent five years in India, Burma, China, and a short time in Australia," said Pedigo. "I got through over the Himalayas and through the Burmese jungle all in one piece. I'm very fortunate."

Stationed in China, his mission was to fly supplies and explosives to fellow American soldiers.

"They sent us P-51 Mustangs, now that's a real aircraft," chirped Pedigo.

Pedigo adds it could hit a top speed of 150 miles per hour. The problem: his crew was flying over thick jungle in enemy territory with no runways to land.

"As you go down the runway and pull back on the stick on an old P-40, there were trees at the end of the runway and you were lucky if you got over the trees," said Pedigo.

He commented up in the air they didn't have a radio, because of poor reception. And, 10,000 feet up the oxygen becomes thin making it difficult to breath. At times, they were without food. But, his biggest concern was the landing.

"When you got down the bottom of the hill, you were sitting in the middle of the Burmese jungle and you had cobras, tigers, and you had all kind of critters," said Pedigo. "It was unbelievable."

Not to mention, he had to keep an eye out for a possible ambush as enemy troops trailed close behind.

"It's amazing that I ever got over there and got back," Pedigo mentioned.

Pedigo carries the pictures and memories he hopes to pass onto others.

If you want to honor your local veterans, this Saturday is the Virginia's Veterans Parade.