Gene Valencia was born on April 13, 1921, in San Francisco, California. He enlisted in the California National Guard on February 14, 1937, and served until March 2, 1938. He then joined the U.S. Naval Reserve on April 24, 1938, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on August 1, 1941. Valencia was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Aviator on February 1, 1942, and then served in Oakland, California, before joining Fighting Squadron NINE (VF-9) in February 1943. LT Valencia was credited with the destruction of 23 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 probables and 2 damaged while serving with VF-9 in the Pacific between October 1943 and May 1945. He left VF-9 in July 1945, and then served with the U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station in Inyokern, California, from September 1945 to April 1948. His next assignment was with Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit Pacific at Ream Field and NAS San Diego, California, from April 1948 to 1951, followed by service at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, from April 1951 to January 1952. CDR Valencia was an instructor with the Navy ROTC program at the University of California from January to September 1952, and then attended U.S. Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, from September 1952 to July 1953. He served with Air Transport Squadron TWENTY-ONE (VR-21) from July 1953 to January 1956, and then served on the staff of the Commander of Naval Air Bases for the Twelfth Naval District from January 1956 to June 1958. CDR Valencia served as Operations Officer and Executive Officer while serving with All Weather Fighter Squadron THREE (VF(AW)-3) from June 1958 to May 1960, followed by service on the staff of the Commander in Chief of North American Air Defense Command from May 1960 to May 1962. His final assignment was on the staff of Headquarters Twelfth Naval District in San Francisco, California, from August 1962 until his retirement from the Navy on November 1, 1962. CDR Valencia was one of the organizers of the American Fighter Aces Association, and he died at the American Fighter Aces Association Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on September 15, 1972. He was buried at Glen Abbey Memorial in San Diego, California.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron NINE, attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Okinawa, April 17, 1945. Leading his combat air patrol in an aggressive attack against an overwhelming force of enemy fighters intent on attacking our Fleet units, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant) Valencia engaged the enemy and, although outnumbered ten to one, personally shot down six hostile planes, probably destroyed another and damaged one. By his expert airmanship, gallant fighting spirit and devotion to duty, he contributed materially to the ultimate destruction and dispersal of the enemy formation and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.