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John Horvath
War: World War II
Branch: Army Air Corp - Flying Tigers
Unit: 75th Fighter Group - 23rd SQD
Highest Rank: Staff Sargeant
Birth Year: July 4, 1921
Citations: Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Bronze Star, Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal
Place of Birth: Port Huron, MI


Since John Horvath was deceased at the time of the interview, his daughter Dawn Smiddy was interviewed. She described her father as a big man who was daring, fearless, competitive and intelligent. He originally joined the Air Force but when volunteers were being recruited for the flying tigers, he joined up.

In the beginning the Tigers had problems getting planes, replacement parts, and other basic supplies. Their leader, General Chennault was respected by the entire group.

Horvath began as a radio operator but then was switched to gunner, which he enjoyed and was good at. Since he knew some Hungarian, he was able to act as interpreter for Hungarian nuns who were in China.

Horvath was shot down in Japan and was severely tortured. He never got over this which led to his dislike of the Japanese. When he was discharged, he was still haunted by his experiences and by what he saw. His daughter has been in touch with many of the Tigers and although they gave her some information, they made it clear that they would not discuss areas which the group vowed to keep secret.

The accumulations of everything he experienced finally led John Horvath to commit suicide. He left behind a wife and five children. Even though Dawn did not have much contact with her Father, she obviously still has a great deal of respect and admiration for him, as she does for all WWII Veterans.