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LeRoy Gover


Leroy Gover lived in San Carlos, California. He had the 'bug' for flying and soloed a biplane on his sixteenth birthday. After graduating from high school he helped his father build homes, and learned the skills necessary to become a builder himself. In 1934 he bought a Piper Cub and spent two summers crop dusting in the Bakersfield area. He wanted to join the Air Corps but was not qualified, since he had no college education.
Through the Clayton Knight Committee, he applied for the RCAF in May 1941 and was accepted. He trained at Bakersfield, California, where he flew PT-17s and AT-6s.
Upon completion of his training there followed a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to England. There he received additional training in an Operational Training Unit. He served in aN RAF fighter squadron and then was transferred to No. 133 (Eagle) squadron before joining the newly formed USAAF 4th Fighter Group. The day before his transfer he shot down an Fw-190 over Dieppe flying a Spitfire. He flew Spitfires in the RAF and then in the 4th Fighter Group, amassing 47 combat missions in them prior to the Group's switch to P-47 Thunderbolts.
The Group began to receive P-47s, and immediately started to become familiar with this chubby fighter. On 24 February 1943 Lee had to make a dead-stick landing which proved it was possible. 10 March saw the first operational flight in P-47s, and by the end of May Lee had flown 38 missions in the "Jugs".
On 9 July 1943 Lee was awarded the Silver Star, the first such award in the 4th Group. On 14 October he was promoted to Major, and on 12 December he was grounded for a mandatory leave having flown 234 hours on 159 combat missions in the P-47.
On 30 May LeRoy was assigned to Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida, as Training Group Commander, where he served until the end of March 1945. He was then assigned to Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona, where he flew two and four-engined bombers as Base Operations Officers at Kingman. In December 1945 he left the service and went into the construction business.
In 1947 he applied for a commission in the Army Air Force. On 19 June he was commissioned in the Regular Army and soon transferred as an officer to the Air Force. He wa assigned as an instructor for the Air National Guard in Charlotte, North Carolina, where one of his duties was to fly 16 P-47s to California to fly in the making of the film "Fighter Squadron".
His next assignment with the California Air National Guard gave him the opportunity to fly a P-51 Mustang. This was soon followed by subsequent assignments where he checked out inn a jet (P-80), and later in an F-86, and he became a Squadron Commander.
In 1951 he was promoted to a Lieutenant Colonel. He was promoted to Colonel in 1961 and retired in May 1962. As a civilian he flew charter flights to Mexico and Canada, retiring in 1980 after accumulating 28,000 hours of flying time. Although RAF records of individual enemy aircraft kills are incomplete, Lee's records indicate he had four fighters shot down, and he added three more flying P-47s with the 4th Fighter Group.
He ended his career in combat as one of the most decorated fighter pilots in England. Upon retirement in May 1962 he had received 18 medals, including the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the French Croix de Guerre and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
From 1962 - 1980: Charter pilot, flying fisherman to Mexico and Canada. Retired in 1980, but continued flying into his eighties, ultimately logging over 28,000 hours flight time.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 336th Fighter Squadron

    336th Fighter Squadron

    The 336th Fighter Squadron was constituted by the War Department on 22 august 1942, and was activated at Bushey Hall, England, on 12 September. It had been designated as No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and was made up of American volunteers to the Royal Air...

  • No 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    No 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 1 August 1941, No. 133 reformed at Coltishall as the third 'Eagle' Squadron manned by American personnel. Equipped with Hurricanes it became operational at the end of September. The next month the Squadron moved to Northern Ireland, returning to...


  • 41-6256 'Blue Woofis'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Capt Leroy Gover flew this aircraft on the very first P-47 mission, 10 March 1943. Transferred to

  • 42-74688 'Miss San Carlos'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AFUSAAF. One-time personal aircraft of Major Leroy Gover.

  • BL722 'Sondra Lee IX'

    Supermarine Spitfire BL722 Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • 41-6574 'Miss San Carlos'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    16-8-43 Destroyed 2 x Fw190's and damaged another over Paris

  • AM121

    P-51 Mustang
    Delivered as an Alison engined Mk I Mustang to the RAF, converted to Mk X by the installation of a two stage RR Merlin 61 engine. ...

  • 41-6190

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG 8AF USAAF, transferred to 335FS, transferred to 551FTS 495FTG 8AF, transferred to OTRU 8AF.

Associated Place

  • Biggin Hill

    Military site : airfield
    An RAF Station with US lodger units. USAAF Spitfires and P-38s were attached to RAF No 11 Group stations in mid-1942 for training; also used for special operations by British and US forces.

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...

  • Eagle Squadrons Memorial

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born Loveland, CO, USA 6 May 1914

Son of Roy and Eleanor Gover.

Lived in San Carlos, CA, USA 1940
Died Menlo Park, CA, USA 5 November 1997


Date Contributor Update
31 May 2021 17:49:35 Al_Skiff Changes to biography, awards, events and unit associations

Date Contributor Update
29 December 2016 23:36:26 WD-C Mustang Changes to firstname

Changed spelling of name:

Date Contributor Update
25 February 2016 13:59:28 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2015 10:04:50 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, role, biography, awards, events and unit associations

Date Contributor Update
28 March 2015 19:34:53 apollo11 Changes to firstname

Personal research & 'The Debden Eagles' by Garry L. Fry.

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 21:51:11 apollo11 Changes to highest rank

'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:22:42 apollo11 Changes to nickname, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:20 AAM AAM ingest

Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list