Captain Jack Ilfrey’s nickname was Happy Jack, which is where the name of his P-38J-15-LO Lightning got it’s name “Happy Jack’s Go Buggy” from. Ilfrey was a member of the 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group during the Second World War in the ETO and was one of the more unique men of the war.
While on his first of two combat tours in Europe, serving with the 1st Fighter Group, he caused an international incident when he landed his P-38 in nuetral Portugal, low on fuel. He (somehow) managed to talk the Portuguese into giving him enough fuel to finish his trip and took off. However, following proper procedure, all aircrew and ships that land in a neutral country during a time of war are supposed to be interned till the end of hostilities. This broke neutrality laws of war, and his leaving caused a big fluster. The US State Department was going to send him back to Portugal in an attempt to make things right, but General Jimmy Doolittle (the man behind the Doolittle Raid) intervened and smoothed things over.
That wasn’t the end of the man’s rather unique and checkered service record: During one of his first dogfights, he had over four feet of the right wing of his P-38 sheared off by an ME-109 he had been dogfighting. While the German pilot didn’t survive the collision, Ilfrey managed to fly his badly crippled plane back to base and fight another day. In another incident, he was busted down to 2nd Lt. after the celebration for his promotion to Major got slightly out of hand on base. Ilfrey was acting CO of the 79th Fighter Squadron at the time, giving him the claim of fame of being the only 2nd Lt. to command a combat fighter squadron in the USAAF.
Ilfrey took large risks when others wouldn’t as well. He landed his P-51 Mustang behind enemy lines in Holland simply to pick up his downed wingman when he was ordered not too. Both of the men managed to squeeze into the plane’s cockpit for the short flight to Brussels, Belgium. He was also shot down during a strafing mission over France on June 13, 1944. With a lot of help from the French Maquis, Ilfrey managed to make over 200 miles back to Allied lines dressed as a French farmer.