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November 08. 2012 1:40AM

Aviation Museum honoring Dover native, Korean War ace McConnell


 

LONDONDERRY - The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire on Saturday, Nov. 10, will present a tribute to Air Force Captain Joseph McConnell, a Dover native and Korean War flying ace.

Scheduled as part of the museum's Second Saturday @ Museum program as well as Veterans Day weekend activities, the presentation will begin at 11 a.m. in the Vincent DeVino classroom at the museum, 27 Navigator Road.

"McDonnell is credited with 16 air combat kills in his F-86 'Beautious Butch' Sabre Jets against Soviet MiG-15s, the most ever recorded in that war, and later was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star for his combat heroism," museum officials said in a written statement. "After his Korean Conflict duty, he became a test pilot for advanced F-86 models."

McDonnell was killed after a mechanical malfunction led to a plane crash in the Mojave Dessert during a 1954 test run.

His feats and exploits were documented in a 1955 film based on a book by Charles Ira Coombs and starring Alan Ladd and June Allyson.

Born in in 1922, he was the son of Joseph C. McConnell Sr. and Phyllis Winfred Brooks and attended local schools. He started his military career in 1940 when he enlisted the First Infantry Division of the US Army at Fort Devens, Mass. Later he received a transfer to the Air Corps. Upon being certified a navigator, he flew combat missions in World War II in Europe as the navigator on a B-24 Liberator.

In 1942 he married Pearl Edna "Butch" Brown in Fitchburg, Mass., and after conducting flight training, the fighter pilot sought was assigned to the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing late in 1952 during the Korean War. His documented "shoot-downs" took place over a four-month period in 1953.

McConnell flew at least three Sabre Jets, all of which he called "Beautious Butch," nicknamed after his wife. He was shot down in April 1953, but after ejecting safely he was rescued from by a helicopter. His final combat Sabre was an F-86F, and it was repainted following his final mission with a name change to "Beautious Butch II." On his final day of combat on May 18th. 1953 he shot down three MIGS on two separate missions bringing his total to 16, thus making him a triple ace. Immediately after his 16th kill he was sent back to the states to do bond promotion drives.

For more information, log onto nhahs.org or call 669-4820.


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