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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Russo, Michael Thomas



  • Existence: 1920-2006

Michael T. Russo was born September 4, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio. Russo was an engineering student at Ohio State University in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he left school to join the U.S. Army Air Corps. He completed basic training at Pine Bluff, Arkansas and had advanced training at Randolph Field (Texas). He received his wings at Moore Field (Texas) and was sent to Meridian, Mississippi to train with the new North American A-36 Apache (the predecessor to the North American P-51 Mustang).

Russo was assigned to the 16th Bomb Squadron, which later became the 522nd Fighter Bomber Squadron (27th Bomb Group [Light], Twelfth Air Force). Russo and his fellow flyers were sent to North Africa, where they fought in the Mediterranean Theatre and helped the Allies push into Italy. By the end of 1943, Russo had 5 kills and was recognized as the first P-51 Mustang Ace and was the only pilot to achieve Ace status while flying a North American A-36 Apache during World War II.

Russo was sent home after his tour to participate in several War Bond drives, and he was promoted to Captain in 1944. He left the service just before the end of the war with a remarkable 169 points. His decorations included the Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with fourteen Oak Leaf Clusters.

Russo moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1958 and also had a home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. In 1960 Russo founded MR Products, Inc. The company continues to operate and is best known for its "Mr. Chain" line of plastics chains, poles, and stanchions. Russo married Mary DiVincenzo in 1947 and they had two daughters, Michele and Maree. Russo died in Port St. Lucie on May 12, 2006.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Michael T. Russo World War II Collection

Identifier: 2008-08-25
Abstract Michael T. Russo (1920-2006) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and joined the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1941 as a fighter pilot. Russo attained Ace status while fighting in the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation. The collection contains photographs, textual materials and ephemera related to the World War II experience of American Fighter Ace Michael T. Russo.

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