Frederick Rounsville "Fritz" Payne, Jr. (July 31, 1911 – August 6, 2015) was a World War II fighter ace who left his mark on aviation and wartime history by shooting down six Japanese warplanes during the Battle of Guadalcanal. What Payne did between September and October 1942 was take to the skies in an F4F Wildcat and shoot down four Japanese bombers and two fighter planes during a crucial, months-long battle for control of the Pacific that Allied forces had launched with no clear indication they could win, Toronto Sun reported.
But it was in two weeks at Guadalcanal that he built his lifelong reputation. The title fighter ace is reserved for those who have shot down at least five enemy aircraft in battle. Technically Payne was awarded 5 1/2 kills because he had help from another pilot in downing one plane. In addition to Guadalcanal, Payne saw combat at Kwajalein, Hollandia (now Jayapura, Indonesia) and Guam.
Frederick Rounsville "Fritz" Payne, Jr. was a brigadier general in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1934. Ordered to flight training at Pensacola, Payne was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1936 and designated a Naval Aviator in September. The next month he reported to Quantico, Virginia to begin squadron flying assignments. Initially assigned to VMF-2 in October 1940, he was transferred to VMF-221 in July 1941, and embarked for Midway on 8 December following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Major Payne entered combat at Guadalcanal in September 1942 on detached duty with VMF-223. His first victory was a half-share in a Japanese twin-engine bomber on 14 September followed by a solo victory two weeks later. When his own squadron, VMF-212, arrived in October, Payne quickly added for more victories: two bombers and a pair of Zekes between 18 and 23 October to become a Wildcat ace. He left Guadalcanal on 27 October and subsequently served as commander of VMF-212 from November 1942 to February 1943 and later commanded Marine Air Group 23.
He was made a lieutenant colonel in 1943, and later served in Korea. He retired from active duty with the rank of brigadier general on 1 August 1958.
Payne was awarded the Navy Cross for service with VMF-212 on Guadalcanal between September and October 1942, shooting down six Japanese airplanes. He was also honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in May 2015. Payne died in 2015 at Rancho Mirage, California; at the time of his death he was the oldest living former fighter ace.