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 Tiger Down, Joe Poshefko (4 Replies, Read 14929 times)
LydiaRossi
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Widow of AVG pilot J. R. Rossi
We have lost another legend, Joe Poshefko, a gentle giant.
I will post some information here.
From his son Bob on 7/8/13:
"My Dad passed away in his sleep last night just short of 98.My sister and I were fortunate to have this kind and blessed man as our father.
He will be buried next to mom at the Massachusetts National Cemetery Connery Ave. Bourne, MA 02532"

This is an article about Joe from 1993:
NATICK
Joseph Poshefko never aimed to become one of World War II's enduring legends as an original member of the famed "Flying Tigers."
He'd grown up "poor as a church mouse" in Depression-era Pennsylvania, making his way from the coal mines to breaking rocks with a sledgehammer in the Civilian Conservation Corps and eventually joining the Army Air Corps in 1937 for $21 a month.

"They were hard times, tough times, bleak times," Poshefko recalled from the living room of his Natick home.

As war engulfed Europe and the Pacific, the 26-year-old armorer volunteered "for the adventure" to join the secret American Volunteer Group to fight the Japanese in China.

Now 93, the retired General Motors executive will rejoin fellow members of a vanishing breed at a five-day reunion at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport this weekend.

"Maybe there's four or five coming to celebrate our 68th anniversary. I know all of them," said Poshefko. "There's such a small group that's left. We're all good friends. I guess you could call me a survivor."

A sturdy 6-footer with a powerful handshake, he still exercises several days a week at a Sudbury fitness center.

Relaxing with his daughter Jo-Ann Connors, he wears a shirt covered with pictures of the Tomahawk P-40 fighter planes flown by the Flying Tigers. A vivid painting of a tiger hangs on the living room wall across from a tiger-face clock.

Looking back across nearly seven decades, Poshefko remembered his wartime service in Asia with a mix of romance, danger, fellowship and patriotism.
Traveling on a Dutch freighter, he landed in Rangoon, Burma, before traveling to southern China where the AVG was based. He was fighting the Japanese several months before Pearl Harbor.

Poshefko said the AVG fought heroically against overwhelming odds to stymie the Japanese advance and keep open the "Burma Road," a vital supply route linking China and Allied forces.

"It wasn't just the Japanese planes our guys shot down. It was everything," he said. "There was bad news everywhere else. The Flying Tigers were a boost to the morale of the U.S. That was one of our main contributions."

Founded and commanded by Gen. Claire Chennault to assist China, the vastly outnumbered Flying Tigers destroyed 299 Japanese planes with another 153 "probable" kills while losing only 16 American airmen.

Stationed in Kunming, China, Poshefko maintained the weapons of Tomahawk P-40 fighter planes adorned with the fearsome shark's tooth design on their nose. Known to his comrades as "Poco" or just plain Joe, he served as chief armorer of the AVG's Third Pursuit Squadron which called itself "Hell's Angels."

"We weren't afraid," he said. "We were too young to be afraid."

Military historians agree the AVG's five-day aerial attack in May 1942 on two Japanese divisions attempting to cross the Salween Gorge from Burma into China helped prevent the invasion of southern China.

In a deep voice Poshefko said, "We strafed and bombed the Japanese vanguard and turned them back. That was one of the most decisive actions of aerial combat in the war. We saved southern China and prevented it from getting cut off."

The war touched Poshefko in ways still painful to recall.

His brother George was killed in Guadalcanal and his brother John, a tail gunner in a B-17, died on his 26th bombing mission over Germany.
"Those who died and those who were wounded and suffered, they're my heroes," he said.

The AVG was disbanded seven months after the United States formally entered the war.
The China Air Task Force of the U.S. Army Air Corps, led by Chennault, took over the air war in China.
After receiving an honorable discharge, Poshefko moved to Natick in 1946 and worked as safety director at General Motors. Mary (Radocha) Poshefko, his wife of 58 years, died in 2001 at the age of 84. They had two children.
Fifty years after the war, Poshefko was belatedly awarded the Bronze Star for his service with the AVG. More recently, he's been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the American Combat Aviators Hall of Fame.

As the nation prepares to celebrate another Independence Day, Poshefko has mixed feelings about America's continuing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think people are fed up with war. There's been a war going on since I was born in 1915. And they've never stopped," he said. "I want to keep America's military strong but keep its members at home. You can't sell democracy."
A day before the reunion, Poshefko was looking forward to seeing his old AVG comrades-in-arms once again.

"We were loyal and dedicated Americans who loved our freedoms," he said. "I have no regrets at all."




Edited by LydiaRossi : July 9, 2013, 11:57 am
IP: --   

Tiger Down
BillC
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So sorry to hear of Joe's passing. He was an outspoken, colorful guy, who always let you know what was on his mind, without any sugar coating. My condolences to his family and friends, and the entire AVG family. Some small comfort may be found in that the 'big' reunion, on the other side will have been waiting to welcome him.
IP: --   

Tiger Down
puailihau
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On behalf of all of us who dedicate our time to preserve the memory of the AVG, we would like to say, "Joe, GOD SPEED."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and he will be missed.

He will always be REMEMBERED like all of our AVG veterans past and present.

My grandfather was very special to me and took his journey into the clouds, also at 97.

Much sympathy and respectfully,

-Charles
Founder AVG Living History Group
IP: --   

Tiger Down
LydiaRossi
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Widow of AVG pilot J. R. Rossi
Chuck Baisden has asked me to post this message:

Joe Poshefko and I, have been friends since 1939 - longer than I've known my wife! We were in the33rd Pursuit sqdn, 8th Pursuit Grp. when we met and became good friends, Joe was a $54 mth Cpl and I was $21 nth pvt. He was always glad to give a helping hand. We attended the same meeting and both volunteered for service in China under Chennault and the Chinese AF. We sailed together with the lst group in the Spring of 1941 and assigned to the same sqdn, now know as the 3rd Sqdn of the American Volunteer Group.
We have continued our friendship through these 74 years and I will miss his phone calls,  always asking if we have caught any "shrimps"? between AVG reunions. Yes, I miss my comrade-in-arms.
Chuck Baisden
3rd Sqdn AVG Flying Tigers
Chinese Ntl Air Force - 1941-42"
IP: --   

Tiger Down
LydiaRossi
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Widow of AVG pilot J. R. Rossi
This is another report from Joe's son Bob:

Dad passed away in his sleep. This the way he wanted to go so he got his last wish.
The day before he went to Dunkin Donuts and held court so he was lucid till the end.
He was proud of being a Coal Cracker so his 40 lb block of coal was to his left. On the right was the signed copy by RT Smith picture of the p-40's.
About a 150 people showed up for his wake. We had his mass on Saturday then on Monday we drove to the Bourne Military cemetery for his funeral ceremony.
We had a twenty motorcycle escort for the hour plus ride to Borne. Lee Clouthier was on his triumph and Jo-Ann on the back of a Harley. An appropriate send off for a "Hell's Angel Squadron".
Mike his grandson received his flag.
Death is a part of life. Dad had a great life and a peaceful death. Jo-Ann and I will miss him but we are content that he was happy to the end.
IP: --   

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