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World War II Pilot Receives Honors in Grants Pass

Hampshire Field in Grants Pass keeps memories alive of a hometown Army Air Corps pilot shot down over China during World War II.

Raised by his father after his mother died when he was 6 years old, John Hampshire pursued a passion for flying even before his graduation from Grants Pass High School in 1936.  Soon after receiving his pilot’s license he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron, known as the “Flying Tigers.”   

Beginning in September 1942, Capt.  Hampshire gained a reputation as an ace pilot who shot down enemy planes as fast as he encountered them.  Many considered him the most brilliant fighter pilot in the Lingling Theater in China, having destroyed 17 enemy aircraft during his career.

On his final mission, Hampshire was shot down over the Shiang River in May 1943, and died before a flight surgeon could reach him.  He posthumously received many medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster.  Hampshire was buried in Honolulu, Hawaii.

His portrait hangs at Grants Pass High School, and an “eternal” flame burns in his honor at the Grants Pass Hillcrest Cemetery.

Sources:  Fattig, Paul.  “Flying Tigers remember a real ace.”  Mail Tribune 22 May 1998 [Medford, Ore.] . Web. 12 July 2015;  "John Hampshire in China." Flying Tigers Association. Ed. Tripp Alyn. 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 July 2015. . “Capt. John F. Hampshire, Jr.”  Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor.  Web. 24 June 2015. http://evergreenmuseum.org/

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.