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Francis "Frank" R. Royal
Pilot, 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron

Click For EnlargementBackground
Born Francis Robert Royal was born Manzanola, Colorado.

Wartime History
Royal enlisted in the U. S. Army and was assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron nicknamed "Cobra in the Clouds".

During January to February 1942, he served as Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the Squadron during their voyage overseas from the United States to Australia.

For the squadron's first combat tour, they operating from Port Moresby, flying the Bell P-39 Airacobra from 7 Mile Drome and 14 Mile Drome. between June 9 until July 27, 1942. During this period, Royal and his squadron mates defended Port Moresby from attacking Japanese Zero fighters and Betty bombers. They also escorted B-26 Marauders from the 22nd Bombardment Group on missions against Lae and Salamaua. During the squadron's first tour in New Guinea, he served as Operations Officer. He also served as Operations Officer for their first combat tour in New Guinea.

On June 16, 1942 took off from 14 Mile Drome piloting a P-39F Airacobra on a patrol and were intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai. During this combat, Royal dove from higher altitude and claimed A6M2 Zero piloted by Hidaka as shot down. He was officially credited with an aerial victory.

During two separate air combats, Royal's Airacobra was struck by a 20mm cannon shell fired by Japanese fighters. One 20 mm round even struck the tip of one of his propeller blades and passed through it without exploding.

After the 39th became the first fighter squadron of the Fifth Air Force to transition to the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. On September 21, 1942 Royal led the squadron's ferry flight from Garbutt Field at Townsville to 14 Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Although he wanted to continue flying combat missions, he was selected for a staff position under Col. Dick Legg, C. O., 35th Fighter Group.

Postwar
Rpyal retired with the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force (USAF). He was involved with the 39th Fighter Squadron Association as a member and historian and lived in retirement in Colorado Springs, CO.

October 17, 2016, Royal was watched the first flight of P-38F Lightning 42-12652 (White 33) an aircraft formally assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron that he flew that was salvaged from Papua New Guinea, rebuilt and restored to flying condition by Westpac Restorations.

Memorials
Royal passed away November 19, 2016 at age 101 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Relatives
Norene "Renee" Beatty Royal (wife)
Linne Royal (daughter)
Frank Royal Jr. (son)

References
39th Fighter Squadron Memories by Frank Royal
The Three Brothers Story by Frank Royal
My Story (1906-1988) by William Royal
The Frank and Renee Story by Frank Royal
FindAGrave - COL Francis Robert "Frank" Royal, Sr (photos, obituary)
FindAGrave - Mayme Norene "Renee" Beatty Royal (photo)
YouTube "Fox31: WW2 P38 pilot reunited with his plane" October 8, 2015
YouTube "Local News24 101 year old World War II veteran takes remarkable flight" October 29, 2016
YouTube "Larry McManus: Frank Royal" November 19, 2016
Thanks to Frank Royal and Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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