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Major Al Rigby was born in Fairview, Utah, on 4 January 1923 and attended Brigham Young University. He joined the Army Air Forces in January 1943 and graduated from Cadets at Spence Field, Georgia, that December. He graduated from P-51 transition training at Bartow, Florida, in April 1944, then served as an instructor pilot for two months before being assigned as a P-51 pilot with the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group based in Bodney, England--the famous "Blue-nosed Bastards of Bodney."
He flew 76 combat missions over Europe, for a total of 272 combat hours, and shot down 5 German aircraft in aerial combat. Four of those kills came in just 25 minutes on one day, 1 January 1945, over his forward airstrip near Asch, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He is also credited with destroying many enemy trains and barges, as well as at least one aircraft, on the ground during strafing missions.
Rigby was decorated with the Silver Star, the Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Unit Citation. He served three years active duty stateside during the Korean War with the 33rd Air Division of Air Defense Command. He served 25 years in the Utah Air National Guard, retiring in 1979 with the rank of Major. He also worked for 25 years as an air traffic control supervisor at the Federal Aviation Administration's Salt Lake Center.
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