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Dear Ask Mr. History,

Several years ago, a lot was made about President Bush being the youngest Naval pilot, receiving his wings a few days before turning 19. Who was the youngest Army Air Force pilot during WWII? My uncle, Roman Mierzejewski, received his wings a few days after he turned 19. He was part of Class 42-K, and was set to graduate Dec. 8, 1942, but that was pushed back to Dec. 13, the same date as West Point’s graduation.

Thank you,
John B. Mier

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Dear Mr. Mier,

I’m afraid I cannot answer the question of who the youngest pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces would be, because there were a total of 193,000 airmen in service, and the entry requirement during World War II was dropped from age 20 to 18, without necessarily two years of college, and even an accommodation for qualified enlisted men to fly as “Flight Officers.” Given that and the multitude of volunteers (some of whom undoubtedly lied about their ages), it is doubtful that I could name a specific 18 or 19 year old who got his wings without someone emerging from the woodwork to point out someone who beat that person’s age by a week or two—or even a day or two. Sorry, but “superlatives” like this is just too loaded a subject.

And that’s just the USAAF, not counting the rest of the world, where, just for one example, Irish volunteer Brendan Finucane became a 32-victory ace and the youngest wing commander in the Royal Air Force before being killed short of his 22nd birthday.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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