Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

John Mollison Interviews Old Guys and Draws Their Planes

Don Bryan and John Mollison

Lt. Col. Don Bryan, an Ace with the famous 352nd Fighter Group and John Mollison, Writer and Draw-er

The North American A-36 Apache, flown by Bill Creech.

The North American A-36 Apache. This was flown by Col. William T. "Bill" Creech, who flew 302 combat missions in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. He wrote a book about all of that and more: The 3rd Greatest Fighter Pilot. It's available through authorhouse.com.

F4U-42 Corsair.

Eugene "Red" James flew the F4U-42 Corsair on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. "Red" flew 136 combat missions in WWII and Korea. See the art on the nose of the plane? That signifiies being in the elite group, "The Checkerboarders."













Making Every Day A Memorial Day

A  few months back I met (by email) John Mollison, who had read an article I posted about the Burma Road. John is a a military historian and a tremendously gifted artist who uses that gift in an equally tremendous way. He draws, in meticulous detail, the planes of WW II pilots and gives them as thank you gifts for allowing him to interview them. 

John’s website is one of those that can take you days to fully explore–and you’ll go back for more.  John is modest and insists there are artists who draw in much more detail than he does–and he may be correct. But you can feel the caring in his work and I like that.  Check out the website here. 

I also found a neat article in a Pensacola newspaper about one of the subjects John interviewed, Eugene “Red” James. You can read it here.  

 On Memorial Day we honor our departed loved ones and we give special honor to all those who served in the United States Armed Forces. John Mollison honors our living WWII and Korean Conflict heroes and learns from them as well. On his website he says:

A question most-often asked is, “What’s the big thing you get out of all these interviews?”

For one, it’s a deep appreciation and looking-forward to growing old.   When I was born, the men I’ve interviewed were older than I am now. To put another way, they have an entire lifetime of wisdom and learning over me…and it shows.

Yet, these men are lively, vibrant, students of learning, humble and, in a few cases, could probably kick my butt if push came to shove.

 I look forward to aging like they have- strong, sharp and alive.

 And hopefully, the study of History will become more valued.  Living in the past is silly, but you have to admit that it points in fairly reliable directions.

I enjoy all of John Mollison’s website, but especially enjoy the photos of him and some of the pilots he has interviewed. You can check that page here. They look like people I would love to meet myself, so I envy John. I not only envy him his talent, I envy the creativity and thoughtfulness he has shown by using his talent to enrich the lives of others. He makes every day a Memorial Day. That is a good idea for all of us.

May 26th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 14 comments


  1. Very nice. I enjoyed this and enjoyed reading more about the men and the planes on some of the other sites you linked. Have a great weekend, however you spend it.

    Comment by Wiseacre | May 27, 2010

  2. I’ve seen some other military art, but I agree this artist seems to be more involved with the pilots than some of the others are. This was a great generation of men. I wonder if there will be things like this said about people serving now, in another 50 years? I sure hope so. G.

    Comment by Gunderson | May 27, 2010

  3. My grandfather was in WWII and when he talked about it we all would be interested and urge him to tell us some more. He could have made up anything and we would have believed it! Our project this year is to write down all the things he talked about, so we can give it to our families. Monday, those of us who are getting together are going to spend some time planning it. So, that’s OUR Memorial Day! Have a good weekend yourself.

    Comment by T.O. | May 29, 2010

  4. Happy Beginning of Summer! Whoo hoo!!!!!!! I’m going with my mom to take flowers to some cemetaries, which is sad in one way but good to be remembering. I sent this link to a great-uncle who said he liked it and is always glad to see people remembering WWII servicemen and women.

    I’m rotating to afternoons in June, which cuts into fun some, but it’s a good crew so I don’t mind. Come out and see us!

    Comment by denisek | May 29, 2010

  5. Dear Ms. Rowe,
    You have an interesting web site with a lot of good information. This article about John Mollison’s artwork is well deserved. He has heart! Also, you may be interested in this site: maxair2air.com. Go to the Connections link and you will see many interesting planes and stories.

    Regards, Jack

    Comment by Jack H. | May 29, 2010

  6. Great story.

    The 44th, Prepared in all things.

    Comment by S.G. | May 29, 2010

  7. I liked this a lot, even though it makes me feel like I haven’t done very much. They sure lived a life and can look back with pride.

    Thanks for the different kind of Memorial Day post. And, drive carefully this weekend.

    Comment by Mike | May 30, 2010

  8. Tina has been gracious in featuring my website and all of your kind words are welcome. 🙂

    The week before last, JD Collinsworth, one of the first pilots I interviewed, died. I think of him often, I’m sure. However, during one of our first conversations, he shared with me a moment in his life that helped define his character.

    Maybe you’ll find this story as interesting as I have…?

    I wish I had his telling on tape, because so much of the meaning is lost without hearing his careful Texas drawl. Nevertheless, he told of the time he stood in line at the end of his physical, convinced he’d lost his chance at being a fighter pilot because of his less-than-perfect eyesight.

    He described shuffling along a row of underwear-clad men, awaiting the stamp of approval or rejection from the doctor at the head of the line. Evidently, it was just like the movies…with every dull thud of inked rubber on paper, “Jerry” winced, his eyes swelling up with sorry tears.

    You may already know that excellent eyesight was a basic pilot requirement. If you wanted to fly, you needed the eyes to back it up. If not, you’d be a navigator, bombardier, admin person…but not a pilot-in-command.

    Thud! “Next…!”

    Eventually, Jerry took his turn to stand before the doctor and present his damning documents – “Corrective Lens Required.”

    Without a word, Jerry handed the paperwork over to the doctor. He could contain his pride, but he could not contain the single tear that made it’s way down his cheek. Jerry described that tear very carefully, noting that he didn’t make an effort to wipe it off.

    He was a “Thud!” away from his dream of flying fighters.

    The doctor looked up, rifled through the papers, paused a moment or two over the eye examination, then back again. Though he wasn’t sure, it appeared the doctor noticed the tear. Then, instead of stamping a rejection, scribbled the words, “Sunglasses, Prescription Ground” on the form, and passed Jerry on the flight physical.

    Of course, a fighter pilot just didn’t wear prescription glasses! Yet, most
    wore sunglasses – if the lenses needed tweaking a little? Dumbstruck, he moved on down the line and generations later, was still humbly grateful.

    Why the doctor afforded him this bit of compassion, Jerry was never able to find out. But because of that act, Jerry Collinsworth went on to shoot down six German fighter planes over North Africa and Italy.

    One of my computer monitor’s “wallpaper” is of Jerry sitting in the cockpit of his Spitfire fighter plane, wearing those “prescription ground” sunglasses. Of course, he always flew with them and carried a couple extra pair just in case.

    Again, I hope you enjoyed this little retelling and thank you for the kind comments.

    Best regards,

    John Mollison

    Comment by John Mollison | May 31, 2010

  9. Tina says: Thank you, John, for all you do. And especially thank you for this wonderful behind-the-scenes story. How fortunate you are….how blessed, really….to have heard stories such as these. Thank you for sharing it!

    Comment by TLR | May 31, 2010

  10. Excellent article for Memorial Day and the rest of the year. I can’t draw a straight line so I appreciate someone who can. One of my friends has a dad who volunteers at a nursing home for veterans down by Alamosa. He says a third of them don’t want to talk about their military time, a third don’t remember it and the other third won’t stop talking about it. LOL.

    This was all very interesting and good for all of us to think about, especially with so many WWII soldiers passing away now.

    Comment by Meeker98-07 | May 31, 2010

  11. A wonderful post for a special day. I lived in South for a number of years and they do much more about decorating graves and remembering loved ones than we do here in the Northwest. My mother would have been shocked to think someone wouldn’t go to a family gravesite on Memorial Day, but for me that would require traveling 900 miles.

    I do value Memorial Day, but I wish we valued some people more while they were living. That is what makes Mr. John Mollison’s work so worthwhile.

    My family lifts you up in their prayers every day. A visitor asked me, “Who is Tina?” I explained that we don’t know you personally but we love you! Don

    Comment by Don R. | May 31, 2010

  12. […] friend Tina that I think you will find interesting and a fitting topic for this special day. Click here. Email this […]

    Pingback by Jeff Adams » Different Kind of Memorial Day | May 31, 2010

  13. I’m sure the work by this artist means a lot to the WWII pilots and their families. A good story for Memorial Day week. In response to Don R., above….I’m originally from Virgina and I know what he means about things being done differently in the south. There, every grocery store and florist shop is packed with wreaths and flowers for gravesites. Here I don’t think I saw anything at any store. I like the southern tradition better.

    Comment by Tom Tat | June 3, 2010

  14. I’m just finding your site and am impressed at how many interesting articles there are. This one on the WWII pilots is great. I can tell you put a lot of work into the site. Thanks!

    Comment by Skeeter | June 14, 2010

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