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Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr.

The chatter never ends about the ills of society and what’s missing now-a-days, especially for today’s “yutes.”  Not being the Pope or a politician, I don’t know what will save mankind, but I recently discovered that something is missing from my life:

Sabre Jet Ace (The American Adventure Series)

There is one copy of this book available on Amazon.com  for $350.00.  There is another on AbeBooks.com for $975.00.   The nearest library copy is over 100 miles away from Cleveland, Ohio.  There is no eBook available.

I can’t remember how many times I read this biography of Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr.  It fueled my dreams of becoming a pilot.  I not only learned about bravery and heroism, but also about dedication, persistence and selflessness.  And now this story is MIA for my family.

Beyond this personal loss, there are stories like Capt. McConnell’s being written today that are MIA.  Rather than curse the growing darkness that is the mainstream media, I’ll light a metaphorical candle:

Joseph McConnell, Jr.

During WWII Joseph McConnell attempted to become a pilot, but wound up flying as a navigator in a B-17. At age 28 when war broke out in Korea, he was thought too old to be a fighter pilot, but persisted until he was in the cockpit of an F-86. His 16 aerial victories made him the leading American Ace of the Korean War.   He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star.  He was killed on August 24, 1954 at Edwards AFB while acceptance testing an F-86H. He remains the highest-scoring American jet ace in history.

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

Distinguished Service Cross

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain Joseph McConnell, Jr., United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as a Pilot with the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, FIFTH Air Force, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 18 May 1953. Leading two F-86s on an air superiority mission over North Korea, he sighted a formation of twenty-eight MIG-15 type aircraft. Determined to accomplish his mission and with complete disregard for the numerical odds against him, he immediately attacked. Although under fire himself, he pressed his attack to such extent that he completely disorganized the enemy formation, destroying one of the MIGs and damaging another. Several enemy aircraft were then firing at him but, seeing that the other Sabre in his flight was also being fired upon, he completely ignored enemy cannon fire directed at himself and destroyed the MIG that was pursuing his wingman. These victories, in spite of counterattacks by such superior numbers, completely unnerved the enemy to the extent that they withdrew across the Yalu before further attacks could be made. Through his courage, keen flying ability and devotion to duty, Captain McConnell reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force.

Military Times Hall of Valor

Categories: Heros without Capes
  1. Scott Bovard
    March 17th, 2015 at 16:17 | #1

    Mr Bass, Mac is my uncle and while he died before i was born he helped shape my life as well. My older brother did as well. My older brother knew Mac before he too died in a car accident at the age of 25. I asked my mother why Mac was such a good pilot and she told me he was a doer by the time most would most people thought about it, over analyzed it and procrastinated Mac would have done it. I have some photos of Mac from the 151st if you have any maybe we can swap/share? Glad you were influenced by Mac I wished he would have lived so i could have met him and spent valuable time with him. But he lives on through many of us a legacy as a selfless American hero.

    Scott Bovard

    • March 20th, 2015 at 15:59 | #2

      Hi Scott — Thanks for reaching out. It’s an honor to hear from you. I never had the privilege of meeting your uncle. He was a hero of mine when I was 10 or 11 years old and I only knew him through books and the Alan Ladd movie. He was definitely one of the reasons I became a pilot & CFI (civilian). In the mid-fifties, my father worked for North American Aviation in Columbus, Ohio, as an flight control engineer on the F-86. Later, as a rep for Litton Instruments & Life Support, he worked with a John Heffernan, who also flew F-86s in Korea. Is that name familiar to you? I don’t know about John’s service during the war, but sometimes it’s a small world when you get all the way around it. I only have a few pics my dad took of planes at a Columbus airshow from his North American days. But I certainly would be interested, if you wanted to share some of your photos. Just let me know and I can send you my email address. Thank you again. ~Mudcat

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