Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON
HAIRSTON.org ID#2215, b. 2 August 1921, d. 21 March 1991
|Father*||George William HAIRSTON Jr. b. 3 Aug 1890, d. 10 Mar 1976|
|Mother*||Mary Corine PATTY1 b. 18 Aug 1901, d. 23 Oct 1968|
|Birth*||Robert was born on 2 August 1921 in the Patty home, Macon, Noxubee County, Mississippi. The house was built in 1868 and is located on South Washington St.1,2|
|Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON was the son of George William HAIRSTON Jr. and Mary Corine PATTY.1|
|Census 1930||Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON appeared on the 1930 census of George William HAIRSTON Jr. on 29 April 1930 in Main Street, Crawford, Lowndes County, Mississippi; Lists: George W. Jr 38, Corine P. 28, Robert E. 8, George W. III 3 8/12 and owns a home valued at $2,500 and has a radio. George purchased this home from Mr. Waller.3|
|Education*||He enrolled in Columbia Military Academy (Columbia, Tennessee) in 1936 and graduated on 31 May 1938. Robert then went to the University of Alabama (1938-39) and then to Mississippi State (1939-41). He was a member of Kappa Alpha. Like thousnds of other Americans, he interrupted his education when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and enlisted in the military.|
|Census 1940||Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON appeared on the 1940 census of George William HAIRSTON Jr. on 3 April 1940 in Crawford, Lowndes County, Mississippi.4 |
|Anecdote*||Robert obtained his private pilots license at Southern Air Service in Memphis, Tennessee soloing in a Piper J-3 Cub on 14 June 1941.|
Like many other Americans in their 20s, Robert enlisted as an Aviation Cadet on 16 December 1941 at Jackson, Mississippi. After flight training he became a B-24 bomber pilot.
He was assigned to the 308th Bombardment Group of the Fourteeth Air Force in China, Burma and India, which "..sustained the highest casualty rate in the USAAF...". Capt. Robert E. Hairston flew 88 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
The photograph below was taken at Morrison Field, Palm Beach, Florida just before their departure to China on 21 January 1943. The B-24 bombers were with the 373 Squadron of the 308 Bomber Group, 14th Army Air Corp. Robert Hairston, 2Lt, Copilot is standing 2nd from left. The B-24D bomber was "Axis Nightmare" 41-24138. The rest of the crew: Roy E. Tooman, 1Lt, Pilot -James F. Nolan, 2Lt, Bombardier - Marvin J. Silvershatz, 2Lt, Navigator - James L. Whited, SSgt, Engineer - Robert T. Tertell, SSgt, Radio - Charles B. Hertzberg, Sgt, Asst Engineer - George C. Little, Sgt, Asst Radio. Their trip to Yangkai, China left Morrison Field, Florida on February 18, 1943 and arrived at Yangkai, China on March 20, 1943. That was 73 hours, 50 minutes of flying time over a period of 31 days, with the longest single flight of 9 hour and 15 minutes. On the trip the plane was loaded with spare parts and a passenger, Capt. John S. Syzmkowicz. This aircraft was later lost with a different crew on February 1, 1945 on a cargo mission over China, a search for the aircraft and crew was unsuccesful.
Below is the "Flying Tigers Blood Chit" worn by Capt. Robert Ervin Hairston.
Below is a Burma Roadster signed by members of other air crews on 20 March 1943 in China. An "X" was added after that person was listed missing or killed.
Below is "Axis Nightmare", B-24D - 41-24138. In 1944 Capt. Hairston transferred to the 375th Bomb Squadron and was pilot of the "Pistol Packin Mama".5
|India*||On 14 March 1943 attached to the 373rd Squadron, 308th Group, Chakulia, India.|
|China*||On 20 March 1943, attached to the 373rd Bombardment Sqaudron, 308th Group, A.P.O. 627, Yangkai Airfield, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.|
|China||On 31 August 1943 attached to the 375th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Bomb Group, Chengkung Airfield, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.|
|China||On 22 May 1944, Capt. Robert E. Hairston and his crew (1st Lt. James J. Detor, 1st Lt. Arthur Nagel, 1st Lt. Abraham D. Feldman, T/Sgt. George M. Amidon, |
M/Sgt. Arthur M. Harris, S/Sgt. Robert S. Gray, S/Sgt. James L. Byrne, S/Sgt. Robert E. Davenport and Sgt. Earl T. Bates) were ordered to return to the United States thru Air Gateway Miami Beach, Florida. By command of Major General Chennault.
Copy of orders attached.
|Photo*||WW II Photo Album - 373rd Sqaudron, 308th Bomb Group, 14th Air Force|
|Marriage*||Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON married Eleanor Joy SHELBY, daughter of Louis Coffman SHELBY and Stacie Beatrice SMITH, on 12 December 1946.|
|Education||Robert Hairston graduated from the School of Business and Industry, Commercial Aviation, Mississippi State University on January 12, 1948.|
|England*||Stationed in England|
On 6 November 1950, Capt. Hairston traveled to Southampton, England on the USAT (US Army Transport) General Alexander M Patch to start work at the Weather Station, Sculthorpe Royal Air Force Base, Norfolk, England. A few months later, his wife Joy, along with 2 kids and her mother, drove a new 4 door Packard from Memphis to New York. Then on 2 March 1951, Robert's wife and children, along with the new Packard car, sailed from New York to Southampton, England on the USAT (US Army Transport) General Maurice Rose to join him.
Meeting the Pope
On 15 September 1952 Robert Hairston personally met and shook hands with his Holiness Pope Pius XII at his summer home at Castel Gandolpho near Rome, Italy. He piloted a group of officers and airmen from Sculthorpe RAF Base to Italy for a private meeting with the Pope . The trip was authorized by the Base Commander, Col. David M. Jones (he lived across the street from us on the base).
On 12 November 1953, Robert, Joy, Robert Jr. and Shelby returned to New York on the SS United States after leaving Southampton, England on 7 November.
|Colorado*||Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD)|
Maj. Robert Hairston was stationed at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado from 1954 to 1957.
|Bermuda*||From 1957 to 1960 he was Aircraft Commander/Operations Officer for the 59th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flying the WB-50 of the famous "Air Force Hurricane Hunters" out of Kindley AFB, Bermuda.|
Below is a WB-50 Air Force Hurricane Hunter at Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda, flown by Major Robert Ervin Hairston from 1957 to 1960.
|Military||1957 - Maj. Hairston First 59th. Cmd. Pilot|
Major Robert E. Hairston became 59th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's first rated Command Pilot last month. The distinction he earned is the Air Force's highest aeronautical rating and is granted active senior AF pilots having the required qualifications.
Under current regulations, a Command Pilot earns those wings after completeing 15 years of service as an heavier-than-air aircraft pilot and after completeing 3,000 hours of flying time as a pilot or co-pilot. He also must hold a green instrument card signifying above-average proficiency in instrument flying.
All of this Major Hairston has done. He also holds two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals. The new Command Pilot hails from Crawford, Miss. He and his wife Joy, and two children reside off base.
----- The Bermuda Skyliner, Friday, Sept. 13th, 1957. (The Bermuda Skyliner was an unoffical newspaper published by the Bermuda Mid-Ocean News for the personnel at Kindley Air Force Base)
|Psgr List*||On 13 July 1960, Robert and his family returned to the United States aboard the British ship S.S. Queen of Bermuda after he was stationed at Kindley Air Force Base for three years.|
|Military||He retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Lt. Colonel, after 22 years of service.|
|Biography*||The following is a biographical sketch written by Lt.Col. Robert E. Hairston in 1983.|
"CHIEF, AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE COORDINATION ALL HURRICANES"
"Born in Macon, Mississippi in 1921, and reared on a nearby plantation. Graduated from prep school at Columbia Military Academy, Columbia, Tennessee, and completed two years at Mississippi State University before being disrupted by World War II.
Entered the Army Air Corp as a Flying cadet in 1941 and flew eighty-eight combat missions as a B-24 Aircraft Commander in China during WWII, including frequent sorties over the "HUMP" to India to replenish fuel and bombs. Returned to college and finally graduated in 1948.
Attended the Air Force Weather Forecaster's School, Chanute AFB, Illinois, in 1948 and served in various Weather Officer/Detachment Commander positions; Columbus AFB, Barksdale AFB, Sculthorpe, England, and Ent AFB; flying C-47s, B-25s, and T-33s during leasure time. From 1957 through 1960 was Aircraft Commander/Operations Officer of the 59th Weather Reconnaissance squadron (later the 53rd WRS) flying WB-50s of the famous "AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTERS" in Bermuda.
In 1960 assigned to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, as the Air Force Hurricane Liaison Officer (AFHLO), and held that position until retiring from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1966 to accept the present Department of Air Force (DAF) Civil Service position as Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination All Hurricanes (CARCAH) at the National Hurricane Center.
During second tour in college, married Joy Shelby of Memphis, Tennessee, who was teaching ballet at Mississippi State College for Women (a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette), have a son Robert E. Hairston, Jr., and a daughter, Shelby H. Pilkington, living in Miami, Florida.
Professional organizations; American Meteorologioal Society, Daedalians, Sons of the American Revolution, The Retired 0fficer's Association
Now anticipating a second retirement New Years Eve 1983 after 42 years and 15 days of active, reserve and civilian Air Force service."
|Death*||Lt. Colonel Robert Ervin HAIRSTON died on 21 March 1991 in Miami, Dade County, Florida, at age 69.2|
|Burial*||He was buried in Oaklimb Cemetery, Crawford, Lowndes County, Mississippi.7 |
|Eleanor Joy SHELBY b. 27 Aug 1927, d. 21 May 2019|
- [S92] Birth Certificate.
- [S51] Death Certificate.
- [S1930] 1930 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
- [S1940] 1940 Federal Census - National Archives and Records Administration - Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
- [S3464] Glines, Carroll V., Chennault's Forgotten Warriors, The Saga of the 308th Bomb Group in China, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1995, Personal Collection - printed book.
- [S3264] Hairston, Robert Ervin - Papers and Photos, including original military orders, flight logs, photos of airfields, aircraft and people., Personal Collection - printed book.
- [S13] Oaklimb Cemetery, Crawford, Lowndes County, MS.
|Last Edited||10 Sep 2023|