Photo: Family collection via Jay Stout


Elwyn Righetti was assigned overseas in June, 1944, but wouldn’t gain any combat experience until the end

of October of that year.

Rapid Developments

The beginning of 1942 saw Righetti assigned to Moore Field and on May 30,

Cathryn gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth Kyle Righetti. Soon after, they

moved back to Kelly Field, not far from

San Antonio. It was their third move in a

year, and at the time, there was a certain

degree of chaos within the training system. There was hectic movement of personnel as new training bases were put

in services and the command structure

attempted to optimize its use of instructors. Righetti was assigned to the 1030th

February 2023

Basic Flying Training Squadron and was

promoted to Major. In peacetime, such an

advancement would be about ten years

in coming, but the war changed every-

“Righetti was as excited as any new lieutenant would have been

after his baptism under fire. I did not want to dampen his excitement

with what I had to say to him, so I waited until we were alone.

Then I gave him a chewing out like he probably had not had in his

regroup.” (Capt. Darrell Cramer).

thing. When he entered it, the air service

had some 3,500 officers. Currently, it had

140,000 and its overall strength grew from

sit his parents. He often announced his

pending arrival with a low flyby over the

ranch, after which he would land at the

Photo: USAF

$600 per month plus expenses and get

a $500 bonus for each enemy [Japanese] aircraft shot down. Whyinell [sic] am

I married and forced to be responsible? I

could make $20,000 in two years if I lasted.”1)

At the time, he couldn’t have known that he

was talking about the basis of the American Volunteer Group, later to become famous as the “Flying Tigers”. In any case,

Cathryn’s pregnancy forced about another

rearrangement of priorities … He was also

promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on

November 1, 1941, and he was becoming

one of the most experienced instructors

in the service, by then known as the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). New

training facilities were quickly popping up

all over the United States, and it looked

likely that Righetti would be put in charge

of one of them. Then, along came December 7, 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl

Harbor shocked the American public and

Elwyn for the first time recognized the

horrors of war: “The first casualty reports

say I lost one of my students who was

also an especial friend”.1)

45,000 men to 1.7 million!

On taking command of the 1030th BFTS,

his responsibility was the development of

instructors after basic training. He also

put together a manual for instructors

that would be the go-to reference at all

of the training centres. He was becoming

increasingly busy and in one of his letters

home, he complained that “Honest, I didn’t know there was so much work in the


He became a respected authority on flight training. He was making more money

than he could dream of previously, and

his family benefitted. But Elwyn couldn’t

stop thinking about air combat. By now,

though, he had become an important part

of the USAAF’s training machine and the

Air Corps couldn’t afford to lose him. He

began to search out new ways to defeat

the stereotype of the instruction of cadet

pilots. As a senior officer, he took every advantage to travel to all the corners

of the country, naturally, at the controls

of an aircraft. As a result, he attended

conferences, met new friends and made

contacts, saw new places and he met

celebrities, particularly movie stars. On

occasion, he would also fly home and vi-

Darrell Cramer, the man that would lead Righetti on his first missions and one who at least on one occasion

severely chewed him out…

INFO Eduard