From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Willey '44

Date of birth: December 24, 1920

Date of death: August 30, 1943

Age: 22

Lucky Bag

John Scott Willey is listed on a page titled "Gone… But Ne'er Forgotten":

There were close to a thousand of us when we entered in June of 1940 and formed the new fourth class, the class of 1944. Now, as we graduate one year ahead of time, there are less than 800. But we who go to join the active service s are sure in our minds that our friends of fourth class summer who have left us at various stages of the course will find their place in the American Victory Machine, rolling relentlessly on to a triumph over the forces of evil that threaten the life and liberty we all hold so dear.

The Annual Register of the United States Naval Academy 1941-1942 lists him as "Deficient in studies, first term's work. Continued with class pending reexamination. Reexamined and again deficient. Recommended to be dropped. Permitted to resign." on April 22, 1941.

The Class of 1944 was graduated in June 1943 due to World War II. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.


John was killed in action over Italy while piloting a P-38 Lightning fighter.

From 71st Fighter Squadron History:

30 Aug 43 An escort mission protecting B-26s to their target at Aversa marshalling yards. During this time two waves of German fighters challenged the bombers and P-38s in a battle which numbered 75 highly aggressive and persistent aircraft against 44 P-38s. The group ended up with 13 pilots not returning from the mission, and one wounded. Five from the 94th were lost: Lts John G. Cram (MIA), Ralph E. Peck (MIA), Charles A. Woodward (MIA), David O. Parlett (POW) and Harold D. Rigney (POW). Hal Rigney and David Parlett were captured, escaped and returned to the squadron in the summer of 1944. Lt Jack Pettus was the only #4 man to return. An interesting fact surrounds the downing of Hal Rigney. Rigney flew in a rear position and noticed a stray P-38 that flew in behind him. The P-38 fired and hit Rigney forcing him to bail out. A captured P-38 flown by a German was the culprit. Burned and bruised, Lt Parlett bailed out into the water where he was picked up and taken prisoner. He shared the same prison with Lt Catledge who was captured two days previously. The 71st lost five: Lts John Willey (KIA), Clarence Southgard (eventually returned) and Walter Morrison (POW), Lt Ralph Turrentine (KIA- presumed killed in a mid-air collision with German fighters). The 27th lost Lts Harry Warmker (KIA), Clifford Randol (KIA), Jerome Weinberg (KIA) and F/O Donald Deisenroth (POW), and Lt John Husby was wounded in action. This was the greatest loss the Group suffered in a single day thus far (and second only to the 10 Jun 1944 mission) and earned it a second Presidential unit citation.

His obituary has some additional background information.

Memorial Hall Error

John is identified as a 1st LT in his obituary. He was also a member of the US Army Air Foces, not the Marines.

Class of 1944

John is one of 66 members of the Class of 1944 in Memorial Hall.