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Capt. McConnell Shot Down

Capt. Joseph McConnell Jr. wore this scarf in combat. It is the same scarf pictured in the photograph.The flying horse insignia was for McConnell’s 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. The cobra insignia was for his 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. “Butch” was McConnell’s nickname for his wife, Pearl, who donated the scarf to the museum.   (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Joseph McConnell Jr. wore this scarf in combat. It is the same scarf pictured in the photograph.The flying horse insignia was for McConnell’s 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. The cobra insignia was for his 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. “Butch” was McConnell’s nickname for his wife, Pearl, who donated the scarf to the museum. (U.S. Air Force photo)

“I am Harold Chitwood, First Lieutenant, USAF, and at the time Mac was shot down I was stationed at K-13 Korea. I was assigned to the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter Wing. We were in the same squadron; as a matter of fact we went to Korea on the plane.

I happened to be flying the ‘number 3’ position in Captain McConnell’s flight the day he was shot down. Mac was firing at a MiG after my element had taken a bounce. I then heard his wingman tell him to break, there was a MiG at six o’clock. Mac checked his tail but didn’t see the MiG as it was low at his six o’clock. When the MiG closed — he fired, hitting Mac. Mac immediately broke and the MiG slid past, Mac reversed and fired on the MiG shooting it down.

When Mac’s wingman said Mac was hit I broke off my attack, turned and immediately saw Mac’s smoke. He had some 50-70% power remaining, no radio, but control of his aircraft, and headed south to the water. A flight of MiGs followed us south but did not attack. Although Mac’s plane was emitting heavy smoke, there was no visible fire.

I called air-sea rescue from Chodo for help. We spotted a chopper heading north which turned around and followed until Mac bailed out. He was in the water only one - two minutes and back to K-13 before the day was over.

I have looked in my flight log for more accurate information such as other members of the flight, but it is not recorded. Both Mac’s and my wingman had to leave early because they were low on fuel. All three of us landed at K-14 to refuel before returning to K-13.”

Yours truly,

Harold Chitwood

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