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John P. McConnell

General John Paul McConnell (February 7, 1908 – November 21, 1986) was the sixth Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.[1] As chief of staff, McConnell served in a dual capacity. He was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which, as a body, acts as the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. In his other capacity, he was responsible to the Secretary of the Air Force for managing the vast human and materiel resources of the world's most powerful aerospace force.

John P. McConnell
John P. McConnell.jpg
General John Paul McConnell
Born(1908-02-07)February 7, 1908
Booneville, Arkansas
DiedNovember 21, 1986(1986-11-21) (aged 78)
Bethesda, Maryland
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1928–1969
Commands heldChief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Second Air Force
Third Air Force
7th Air Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsAir Force Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (4)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal

Early life and educationEdit

John Paul McConnell was the son of Dr. Samuel Paul McConnell, a medical doctor, and Desseau M. (Dorsey) McConnell.[2] A native of Booneville, Arkansas,[3] McConnell graduated magna cum laude from Henderson Brown College at Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1927. He entered West Point a year later and, at the time of his graduation in 1932, was First Captain of the Corps of Cadets. After taking flying training at Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas, he received his pilot wings in 1933.

Military careerEdit

A fighter pilot during his early years in the then-Army Air Corps, later Army Air Forces, McConnell gained broad experience through a variety of operational and administrative assignments, including duty as assistant executive in the Office of the Chief of Air Forces in Washington. Subsequently, he served in key Air Force positions in both Asia and Europe.[1]

In 1943 McConnell became chief of staff of the China-Burma-India Air Force Training Command at Karachi, India (later part of Pakistan), and remained in Asia for the rest of World War II. While senior air staff officer, Air Command Southeast Asia, and deputy commander of the Third Tactical Air Force in 1944, he participated in combat operations against the Japanese in Burma. In 1946 he was named senior air adviser to the Chinese government and, at the same time, commanded the Air Division, Nanking Headquarters Command.[1]

McConnell returned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 1947 to become chief of the Reserve and National Guard Division and, the next year, was appointed chief of the Air Force's Civilian Components Group. Assigned to England in 1950, he served as deputy commander and later, commander of the Third Air Force. He then took command of the 7th Air Division of the Strategic Air Command, commanding the Third Air Force at the same time.[1]

This was followed by a four-year tour as director of Plans at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. In 1957 he was named commander of Second Air Force, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and four years later returned to Strategic Air Command to become vice commander in chief.[1]

In 1962 McConnell was assigned to Europe as deputy commander in chief of the United States European Command and promoted to the rank of general. He was appointed Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force in August 1964,[4] and assumed the position of Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force on 1 February 1965, relieving General Curtis E. LeMay. His appointment as chief of staff was extended to July 1969.[1]

McConnell's decorations included the Army Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, and numerous foreign awards, including Commander of the Order of the British Empire and the Legion of Honor – Degree of Commandeur (France).[1]

In June 1965, McConnell was presented an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. He also received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in June 1966.[2]

McConnell retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1969 and died November 21, 1986 in Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland.[3] A funeral service was held on November 25 in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. with burial in the Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The public library in his hometown of Booneville, Arkansas is named in his honor and contains many items of memorabilia from his years of service to the US Air Force, including service medals, decorations and commendations.


McConnell's role as Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as well as that of the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War, specifically under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, has recently been the subject of significant historical research in the area of the relationships between senior military leaders (e.g., the JCS) and the civilian political leadership (e.g., the National Command Authority)[5] and has increasingly become a topical discussion issue and object lesson for officers attending the nation's senior service colleges (i.e., Air War College, Army War College, Naval War College and National War College).

The Arkansas Aviation Historical Society inducted McConnell into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1985.

McConnell's son, Dorsey W. M. McConnell, is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Another son, Bruce W. McConnell, is a vice president at the EastWest Institute.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "GENERAL JOHN PAUL MCCONNELL". USAF. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "John Paul McConnell (1908–1986)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Saxon, Wolfgang (November 24, 1986). "J.P. McCONNELL, EX-AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF, DIES". New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Raymonds, Jack (May 2, 1964). "PRESIDENT NAMES VICE CHIEF FOR AIR; J.P. McConnell Also Seen as Likely Successor to LeMay". New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Dereliction of Duty, McMaster, H.R., Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY, c1997, ISBN 0-06-092908-1

  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force document "GENERAL JOHN PAUL MCCONNELL Biography".

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Curtis E. LeMay
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Succeeded by
Gen. John Dale Ryan