From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Alphonse Minvielle '38

Date of birth: August 8, 1914

Date of death: February 3, 1949

Age: 34

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:

Loss & Obituary

From Find A Grave:

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) A. M. Minvielle, USN was designated Naval Aviator #7063 in 1941. Graduated U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1938.

"U.S. Navy Commander A. Minvielle (pilot), U.S. Navy Reserve Lieutenant (junior grade) Charles Matus (co-pilot), Civil Service Dr. J.K.L. McDonald, Civil Service Dr. John McKinley, Civil Service employee Mr. Myron G. Kellogg, Civil Service employee Mr. Rodney Morrin and Civil Service employee Mr. Joseph Vargus lost their lives when their JRB-4 Expeditor (BuNo 90550) crashed in the Sierras. The wreckage was found 21 April 1949 near Owens Peak."

Commander Minvielle was married to the former Miss Eleanor Dawson of Portland, Maine. They had four children.

He is buried in California.

Via an email from the USNA AA on November 13, 2017:

Seven Aboard Missing Plane Thickening Weather Threatens to Hamper Search in California.

Inyokern, Calif. Feb. 5 (AP)--Thickening weather threatened today to hamper an aerial search for a plane missing for two days from the navy weapons testing ground near here. It carried seven men, five of them civilian scientists. More than 100 planes combed the Fresno-Bakersfield-Inyokern area, where it was learned the plane might have landed shortly after it left the Inyokern airport at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Fifteen minutes later it was reported at 10,000 feet over Walker's Pass, 50 miles from the field.

There was no further word from the plane but one report told of a plane being heard in a snowstorm about the same time. Jim Jorgensen, a mine superintendent, also told of hearing cries for help from his cabin in the densely wooded Kern Reiver canyon, but he was unable to determine their direction. Ten relief pilots were sent from Eleventh Naval district headquarters in San Diego last night, and ground parties and mobile equipment moved into the area from Isabella, a few miles south of Kernville, where the army set up a communications unit.

Pilot of the missing plane is Alphonse Minvielle, believe to be from San Francisco, and the co-pilot is Lieut. (JG) Charles V. Mathias, 27, Pittsburgh, Pa. The five scientists aboard enroute to Berkeley for a conference of the American Physical society are Dr. F.K.L. MacDonald of Stanley, Nova Scotia; Dr. John J. McKinley, Brighton, Calif.; Myron G. Kellogg, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Rodney Morrin, Waterman, Calif.; and Joseph A. Vargus, explosives divsion, Inyokern testing grounds. North Adams Transcript February 5, 1949

Via an email from the USNA AA on November 13, 2017:

Husband Of Local Woman Plane Victim

Minvielle, 6 Others Found In Wreckage

The pilot of a navy transport plane, husband of a Portland woman, his co-pilot and five scientists were found dead Friday in the wreckage of the plane, which crashed In California's Sierra Nevada mountain range Feb. 3, the navy announced. The pilot was Comdr. Alphonse Minvielle of San Francisco, husband of the former Eleanor Dawson of 548 Stevens Avenue. They have four children.

The navy reported a ground party had reached the plane 17 miles from the town of Inyokem In Kcm County. Calif, and was readying, according to the Associated Press, to bring down the bodies. The wreckage was at the 7.000-foot level near Owens Peak. The scientists were enroute from Inyokern to a scientific meeting at Berkeley.

They were Dr. F. K. L. MacDonald, Stanley, Nova Scotia. Dr. John H. McKinley, Brighton, Calif; Myron O. Kellogg. Santa Rosa, Calif : Rodney Morrin Waterman. Calif., and Joseph A. Vargus, Inyokern. The co-pilot of the two-engine plane was Lt (jg) C. L Mathis, Pittsburgh, Pa. The wreck was discovered Thursday by an air force reserve officer piloting an AT-6. The plane apparently had been covered by heavy snow which melted this week. Portland Press Herald 23 April 1949


From China Lake Alumni:

NAF sailors begin the construction of the on-site recreation area that will later be dedicated to the memory of Cdr. Alphonse Minvielle, USN, who was lost in a 1948 aircraft accident; Minvielle Park (a.k.a. “NAF pool” and “Miniville”) will be expanded over the years—by SEABEE-supported “self-help” projects—to include a large pool, lawns and trees, and other amenities.

Wartime Service

Alphonse was commanding officer of Night Fighting Squadron (VF(N)) 91 from October 5, 1944 — unclear when he was relieved, but it appears he served through the end of the war. The squadron flew from USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) and was credited with 9 confirmed and 2 probable air-to-air victories.

On May 16, 1945, his F6F-5N Hellcat crashed near Pearl Harbor.


From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

  • NAS Pensacola attached for HTA flight training, 6/24/1940
  • NAS Pensacola designated NA # 7063, 1/24/1941
  • Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • Date of rank LT from 1 Jul 1942 USN Register, 6/15/1942
  • Date of rank LCDR from 1 Jul 1944 USN Register, 3/1/1944
  • Date of rank LCDR confirmed in 15 Sep 1945 VF(N) 91 roster
  • VF(N) 91 (CO) NAAF Charlestown attached, 10/5/1944
  • VF(N) 91 USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31), 5/16/1945
  • VF(N) 91 (CO) USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31), 9/15/1945


Alphonse's name wasn't added to Memorial Hall until November 2017.

Class of 1938

Alphonse is one of 71 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.