Perhaps no figure in American aviation history had as colorful–and painful– career as Pappy Gunn. During World War II, Pappy was shot down twice in Beech 18 airliners (painted red), was wounded at least seven times, possibly nine, ordered a surgeon to amputate his pinky after he repeatedly fractured it while working on A-20’s and B-25’s, and on one ground support mission took a piece of AA shrapnel in the hand that not only wounded him, but killed his pet lizard, Sam.
Hundreds of combat missions, thousands of flight hours in the Pacific. He fought two wars, one against the Japanese and one against the USAAF’s rear echelon brass. He is credited with doing more to win the war against Japan than anyone else below the rank of general.
Not bad for a middle aged guy with a sixth grade education who was running an airline at the outset of the war.