JOHN J. MCCORMACK, JR., LCDR, USN
John McCormack, Jr. '33
Date of birth: May 23, 1912
Date of death: December 13, 1943
From the 1933 Lucky Bag:
From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup", published by the class of 1933:
Following graduation Mac served in battleships for a couple of years, and was then ordered to a "four-piper" in the Asiatic Fleet. While on Asiatic duty he met and married Helen Meneratti, a Navy junior; the wedding took place in the Philippines in 1937. They returned to the States in the Fall of 1937 when Mac reported to the RICHMOND. In 1939 he went to Pensacola for flight training, but couldn't get beyond Squadron Three. However, after a year on the staff of Commander Aircraft Scouting Force he wangled another shot at Pensacola; and this time he received his wings — barely four months after he started flying.
He was on duty with a PBY squadron at Kaneohe on December 7th, 1941. In the ensuing scramble to arm the planes and to save those that were burning, he received shrapnel wounds in both legs and additionally three machine gun slugs in his right leg. There followed more than a year of hospitalization and operations to piece together tendons in his leg. He received the Purple Heart, and a commendation from Admiral Nimitz for his actions on December 7th.
Between operations at the Naval Hospital, Corona, California, Mac had the pleasant opportunity of acting as Navy Technical Advisor to RKO Pictures during the filming of "Flight for Freedom," which starred Rosalind Russel, Fred MacMurray, and Herbert Marshall.
In 1943 Mac was returned to duty and ordered to a PB4Y squadron as Executive Officer. While in chrage of a separate detachment of the squadron operating out of the Ellice Islands, his plane failed to return from a search on December 13, 1943. His death was officially announced in January 1946. The squadron, VB-108, was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, and Mac was awarded the appropriate ribbon posthumously.
When his death was officially announced, family friends presented in his memory a sum of money and a suitably inscribed gold chalice to the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers for their Pacific area missions. The chalice is now in use in the Franciscan Missions in Guam.
Mac did not happen to be wearing his class ring on his last flight, and this ring was presented by his parents to the Naval Academy Museum, where it now represents the Class of 1933 in the museum's class ring collection.
Helen has since remarried and is now the wife of Colonel William K. Bonneaux, USAF. Mac's brother, Vincent is a Commander, USN, and his father, Mr. John J. McCormack, is Supervisor of Recreation in the Borough of Bronx, New York City.
From VP Navy:
On 13 December 1943, Lieutenant Commander John J. McCormack took off from Nuku Fetau, Ellice Islands in PB4Y-1 32099 for a routine patrol. They were never heard from again. However, Harlan Scott in his, United States Navy Bombing Squadron One Hundred Eight (Tokyo Rose's Four Engine Fighters, writes "Two months later, intelligence officers at the newly captured Japanese base at Kwajalein, found prisoner of war interrogations among "Jap" secret documents. They revealed the questioning of three men captured after a lone Liberator had been shot down in a low-level attack on strongly defended Jaluit. These men, it is believed from the personal data given, were *Ensign Darrel D. Whitmore, of Ulathe, Kansas; *Lonnie Powell, ACRM, of Opa Locka, Florida; and *John A. Zillis, AMM1c, of Baltimore, Maryland." Documents from American Graves Registration Service (Pacific Zone) and Department of the Army Memorial Division Repatriation Branch, during the late 1940s and early 1950s, conducted a series of inquires and declared the entire crew dead as of 12 January 1946. An interesting notation in the report seems to support Mr. Scott's assertion that some members of the crew had been taken prisoner. The three men identified by Scott matches those listed by the American Graves Registration Service. What happened to them remains a mystery as they did not survive the invasion of the Marshall Islands and were they listed with repatriated POWs at the conclusion of the war. The crew consisted of: John Joseph McCormack, Lieutenant Commander, Richard Ellis McClung, Ensign, *Darrell Devere Whitmore, Ensign, John Francis Ilkovich, AOM2c, Santiago Arredondo Lopez, ARM2c, James Eley Morgan, AMM3c, Robert William Nelson, ACOM, *Lonnie Powell, ACRM, Lonnie Herman Ziesemer, AOM3c, and *John Anthony Zillis, AMM1c.
The loss of the aircraft is also noted here.
His wife was listed as next of kin.
John is listed on the killed in action panel at the front of Memorial Hall.