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William D. Pawley: Wikis


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William D. Pawley (1896–1977) was a U.S. Ambassador, a noted American Businessman and associated with The Flying Tigers American Volunteer Group (AVG) during WWII.


Early life

William Pawley was born in Florence, South Carolina on 7 September 1896. His father was a wealthy businessman based in Cuba, and young Pawley attended private schools in both Havana and Santiago. He later returned to the United States where he studied at the Gordon Military Academy in Georgia. On July 25, 1919, Pawley married Annie Hahr Dobbs of Marietta, Georgia. In 1925, the couple moved to Miami and then to Havana, Cuba, in 1928. They returned with their 3 children to Miami where their youngest child was born. The Pawleys then moved to Shanghai, China, with the baby, leaving their other children in Miami Beach with family. Mrs. Pawley lived in China until 1938 with periodic trips back to Miami. They were divorced in 1941.

Business career

In 1927, Pawley began a connection with Curtiss-Wright that would make him an extremely wealthy man. In 1928, he returned to Cuba to become president of Nacional Cubana de Aviacion Curtiss, which was sold to Pan American Airlines in 1932. He then became president of Intercontinent Corporation in New York, evidently founded by Clement Keys, the former president of Curtiss. In 1933 he moved to China where he became president of China National Aviation Corporation an airline running between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Pawley finally sold out to Pan Am again. He later assembled aircraft in partnership with the Chinese Nationalist government under the corporate name of Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Hangzhou, Wuhan, and finally Loiwing on the China-Burma border. (CAMCO was owned in partnership with the Chinese government, with the Pawley family interest represented by Intercontinent, which now served as a Pawley family holding company.)


World War II

In 1941, with his brothers Edward and Eugene, he was involved with the organization and support of the 1st American Volunteer Group, popularly known as the Flying Tigers. When the final CAMCO factory was captured by Japan in May 1942, Pawley moved his operation to India as a partner in Hindustan Aircraft Limited.

Later years

Pawley was appointed as U.S. Ambassador by Harry Truman to Peru in 1945. He was named U.S. Ambassador to Brazil in 1948.

Postwar, Pawley was an active member of the Republican Party. A close friend of both President Dwight Eisenhower and Central Intelligence Agency director Allen W. Dulles, he took part in a policy that later become known as Executive Action, a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power. Pawley played a role Operation PBSUCCESS, a CIA plot to overthrow the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after Arbenz introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company. Pawley is thought to have served in Peru, Brazil, Panama, Guatemala, Cuba and Nicaragua between 1945 and 1960. His final residence was in Miami Beach, Florida, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in January 1977, because he suffered from a severe case of the very painful disease - shingles.

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Campbell White
United States Ambassador to Peru
20 July 1945–27 April 1946
Succeeded by
Prentice Cooper
Preceded by
Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
United States Ambassador to Brazil
13 June 1946–26 March 1948
Succeeded by
Herschel V. Johnson


  • Ford, Daniel. Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942. Washington, DC: HarperCollins|Smithsonian Books, 2007. ISBN 0-06124-655-7.
  • Holland, Max, "Private Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy: William Pawley and the 1954 Coup d'État in Guatemala," Journal of Cold War Studies, vol. 7, no. 4, Fall 2005, pp. 36-73
  • Life, 22 March 1943.
  • Pawley, William. Wings Over Asia. New York: self-published, 1941.

External links


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