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Howard Davis Hively


Howard Hively hailed from Columbus, Ohio, and Norman, Oklahoma. While becoming interested in oil leases and attempting to form an aero-exploration firm, he saw a poster in a Dallas hotel inviting him to join the RAF's Eagle Squadrons. He applied, was accepted, and was sent to Bakersfield, California, for fighter pilot training.

Howard, who became known as "Deacon", was shipped out and arrived in England on 1 September 1941, and was assigned to No. 71 Eagle squadron. In September 1942 he was transferred to the U.S. 4th fighter Group.

In June 1943 he was ordered to Tangmere to cover a strike against German U-boat pens at St. Nazaire. After an unexciting mission, at the appointed time the P-47's headed for home. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Deacon's cockpit became very hot and his shoes started to burn. At this point he discovered that his plane was on fire. While debating his next move his prop stopped turning, thus forcing a rapid decision. He didn't relish spending time wet and cold in a dinghy, but being over the English Channel, he had no choice.

He bailed out of his burning plane, and during his descent he decided to get rid of any extraneous equipment. He hit the water and scrambled into his dinghy. Hours later, a launch appeared and picked him up. He was massaged, given warm clothes and a shot of 180-proof rum as they headed back to Portsmouth.

On 6 June 1944, Deacon was promoted to Commanding Officer of the 334th Fighter Squadron, which incidentally coincided with D-Day. On 22 June the "Shuttle Run" to Russia and Italy took place. The first leg from Debden to Russia was 2,200 miles, a seven-and-a-half-hour trek for the 48 fighters that were to escort 104 bombers over their target, Ruhland. They were then to continue on to Russia, where the fighters were to land at Poltava, and the bombers at other bases. Unbelievably, with all the difficulties this mission presented, the Group made it to the field, missing their ETA by only one minute.

Immediately upon landing, the Group was placed under Hively's command, who had the task of assigning quarters, maintenance of the aircraft and attending to Russian protocol. To make matters worse, the Germans had followed the Mustangs and mounted a bombing raid in the middle of the night.

On the 26th they had a mission to Drohobycz, Poland and then continued on to Lucera, Italy. On 2 July, on a mission to Budapest, the group was attacked by 75 Me-109s. In the ensuing battle Hively shot down one Me-109. In turn his canopy was hit by a 20mm shell, badly injuring his right eye. Deacon persisted, using his left eye, to shoot down two more 109's before breaking off and returning to base, where he was hospitalised for his injuries.

On 5 July, with the Group returning to Debden, Deacon went AWOL from the Italian hospital in order to return with them. They flew from Salina, Italy, to escort bombers over Béziers, France, and then on to Debden to complete the third leg of this 6,000 mile triangle.

In October Hively was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in the Budapest battle, where he and two others attacked over 40 enemy fighters and pursued them with skill and perseverance in spite of the overwhelming odds.

In August 1944 he became deputy group and station CO. Deacon served continuously from 1 September 1941 until the end of the war in 1945. He was credited with 14.5 enemy aircraft destroyed. He was credited with destroying 3 ME-109's in a day twice. (May 19, 1944 and July 2, 1944).

He later retired to West Virginia and spent most of his time traveling throughout the States visiting his old friends from the 4th Fighter Group until his welcome wore out. While visiting one in Florida in 1982, he accidentally fell out of the boat they were using to see the sights and died of a heart attack before he could be rescued.

Awards: DSC, DFC (6OLC), AM (7OLC), PH, WWII Victory, EAME (5 x Battle Stars).


Units served with

  • 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...

  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...

  • Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    Headquarters (4th Fighter Group)

    The Headquarters Squadron was made up of true leaders. Most had flown Hurricanes, Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs. ...


  • 43-6898 'The Deacon'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. One-time personal aircraft of Capt Howard "Deacon" Hively. A/C Lost, shot down in melee with fifteen plus enemy aircraft 6-Jun-44 Evreux, France, pilot Major Winslow M "Mike" Sobanski KIA. MACR 5603.

  • 44-15347 'The Deacon'

    P-51 Mustang
    This was the only olive drab P-51D Mustang in the 4th Fighter Group. ...

  • 41-6576 The DEACON

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 41-6233

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned 335th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF. 9-43. Forced Landing Engine Failure Cat 4 damage, pilot Clemens A Fiedler, Debden/Sta 356. 2-9-43. ROS, Assigned 551FTS, 495FTG, 8th AF. 9-44, Mid Air Collision with Thunderbolt 42-74640 Cat 5, pilot 2nd Lt John D...

  • EN915

    Spitfire Mk Vb EN915 was built at the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory, Castle Bromwich, and delivered to the RAF at 37 Maintenance Unit, Burtonwood, on 17 May 1942. It was issued to 154 Squadron at Hornchurch on 12 June 1942. During its time with...

  • 42-7874 'The Deacon'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG 8AF USAAF. Aircraft caught fire while on a test flight 2-Dec-43. Witnesses reported seeing the Thunderbolt dive into the ground at an angle of 30°-40° and disintegrate on impact. Pilot F/O John P McNabb KIFA.

  • 44-13306

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • 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...

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

  • Martlesham Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Opened in 1917 as home to the RFC Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Martlesham Heath became well known during the 1920s-30s as home to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. Used as an RAF fighter station from 1939, with only a grass airfield...

  • Tangmere

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1917-18 as an RAF Training Depot Station (TDS), Tangmere was handed over to the US Army Air Service (USAAS) as a TDS for large Handley Page (HP) 0/400 bombers. ...


Event Location Date
Born Kanawha County, WV 11 January 1915
Pilot training Bakersfield, CA 1940

Flight training.

Eagle squadron UK 1 September 1941

Assigned to No. 71 Eagle squadron RAF.

Transferred to USAAF Debden, UK September 1942 – May 1945

Transferred to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Lived in Norman, OK, USA 1946
Died Fort Lauderdale, FL 23 October 1982
Buried 26 October 1982

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Columbarium 1, FF-24-3


Date Contributor Update
16 November 2021 18:53:46 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, biography, awards and events

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2018 11:47:43 Lucy May Changes to middlename, role, biography, awards, unit associations and media associations

Brought in information from duplicate record. Information added by David W. Gilbert, username 'dwgdallas':

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2018 03:55:04 Bombay Changes to biography

personal knowledge

Date Contributor Update
22 February 2018 22:59:47 dwgdallas Changes to middlename

Pilots of the 4th FG

Date Contributor Update
30 July 2016 21:22:49 WD-C Mustang Changes to media associations

Associated media already in DB that had Hively's name in it.

Date Contributor Update
25 February 2016 14:28:22 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

AAM DB entry.

Date Contributor Update
06 October 2015 15:11:49 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, role and unit associations

AAM DB entry.

Date Contributor Update
07 March 2015 20:51:30 apollo11 Changes to middlename

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

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2015 10:46:05 apollo11 Changes to highest rank, 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 18:13:14 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force / Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol I by Bishop and Hey p. 155, 4th FG website / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list