World War II Flight Training Museum and
63rd AAF Flying Training Detachment

Douglas, Georgia

John Leo Rex

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John Leo Rex

Douglas class of: 1942d Edward or Jon Rex in publicity photo

Theater: European

Highest rank:

S/N: O-789203

Born: 1920

Enlisted: 2 Sep 1941 in Rochester, NY

From Fairport, N.Y. John graduated from Turner Field. Went to school with, served, and flew with his brother Edward M. Rex.

He and his brother flew in the following:

From a newspaper article submitted by John L. Rex, Jr.

Brothers flew bombing raid together

During World War II, my late brother (Edward M. Rex, colonel, USAF, Ret.) and I were stationed in England with the Eighth Air Force. We both served in the same squadron.

Assignments for the following day missions were posted in the Orderly Room on the night before the mission. When we looked at the schedule for June 6, 1944, there was nothing unusual about the crew assignments except in the case of my crew.

My brother Ed was assigned to my crew as command pilot (which means he sits in the right seat, maintains radio contact with our group leader, and checks our squadron relative to our position in the group.)

I was assigned as the leader of the top squadron, which explained the need for a command pilot.

It was a 2:00 a.m. wake-up call that suggested to us that it might be a long mission.

Upon arriving at the briefing room, we noticed an abundance of high-ranking officers present. Among them was Gen. Frederick Castle, commanding general of the Second Air Division, 8th Air Force.

When we were all seated and the meeting was called to attention, the briefing officer pulled away the curtain which covered the activity map. There on the map was the shortest mission flight we ever experienced. The route tape went from our base in East England to a French town named Caen. It was at this time that Gen. Castle was introduced and he very seriously informed us that this was “THE” D-Day mission.

He told us that our group (486th Bomb Group) would be the first 8th Air Force group over the invasion beaches and that our target was Caen, an important rail supply for the Germans.

He then asked Ed and I if we had any objections to flying together in the High Squadron lead aircraft. (Soon after D-Day, the Air Force issued regulations not allowing blood relatives to fly in the same aircraft.)

We were scheduled to be over the target (Caen) at H-Hour minus 30. H-Hour on D-Day was 7:30 a.m.

We were also instructed that in the event of an emergency, we were not to consider turning around and heading back to base. The reason being that there would be thousands behind us at all altitudes.

As we flew over the channel toward the invasion beaches, we looked down and observed thousands of surface vessels heading toward the invasion beach.

My brother and I flew a second mission over the invasion beaches that day. On the second mission, however, we flew in separate aircraft.

— John L. Rex Jr.


He and his brother were discharged in November 1945 and entered the University of Rochester. They applied for and received Regular Air Force Commissions in January 1946.

He was called back to the Air Force and assigned as Base Commander, Niagara Falls AFB. He went to Army Language School (Russian) and then reported to USAF Security Service. He attended a number of Service-oriented schools (Command and Staff, Naval Intelligence, Tactical Staff).


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