General John P. McConnell

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John Paul McConnell

Birthplace: Booneville, Logan County, Arkansas, United States
Death: November 21, 1986 (78)
Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Paul McConnell and Desseau M. Dorsey

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About General 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. As chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, General 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 Paul McConnell was the son of Dr. Samuel Paul McConnell, a medical doctor, and Desseau M. (Dorsey) McConnell. A native of Booneville, Arkansas, General 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.

A fighter pilot during his early years in the then–Army Air Corps, later Army Air Forces, General 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.

In 1943 he 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 the war. 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.

The general 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.

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.

In 1962 General 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 U.S. Air Force in August 1964, 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.

His decorations include 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, Air Medal, and numerous foreign awards, including Commander of the Order of the British Empire and the Legion of Honor - Degree of Commandeur (France).

In June 1965, he 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.

General McConnell retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1969 and died November 21, 1986 in Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland. A funeral service was held on November 25, 1986 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.


General 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 relationships between senior military leaders and the civilian political leadership 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).

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General John P. McConnell's Timeline

February 7, 1908
Booneville, Logan County, Arkansas, United States
November 21, 1986
Age 78
Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States