Lance Cleo 'Wildcat' Wade was an American World War II ace born on 18 November 1916 in Broaddus and died on 12 January 1944 near Foggia, Italy.
Although an American, he joined the RAF in Canada in December 1940 and trained with Operational Training Unit (OTU) No 52. Wade was then sent to the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and flew from its deck in a Hawker Hurricane to reinforce the RAF on the island of Malta. He was then sent to Egypt in September 1941, and was assigned to the prestigious 33 Squadron. The squadron's mission was to provide close air support for Operation Crusader, the British assault on the Afrika Korps on 18 November 1941.
Its first casualties were two Fiat CR.42s on 18 November. He reached the rank of ace on November 24th 1941. On December 2nd, his Hurricane was damaged by the debris of a bomber he had just shot down. Wade was forced to land 25 miles behind enemy lines, but escaped capture and returned to the British lines on foot. In April 1942 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
At the end of his tour of duty and after a brief period of rest in the USA he returned to combat in Italy as a squadron commander with 145 Squadron flying the Supermarine Spitfire Mk V.
Promoted to Squadron Leader he scored 25 victories by the end of 1943. Wade was promoted to Wing Commander and joined the Desert Air Force staff but only stayed there briefly, as he was killed in a flying accident on 12 January 1944 at Foggia, Italy.
Wade was the first American fighter ace to serve exclusively in a foreign air force. As he never transferred to the USAAF, or any other American air service, Wade did not receive the publicity that other American aces did and is often overlooked when discussing historical American aces.