WILFRED J. MCNEIL, JR., CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Wilfred McNeil, Jr. '43

Date of birth: October 8, 1920

Date of death: May 27, 1959

Age: 38

Lucky Bag

From the 1943 Lucky Bag:

1943 McNeil LB.jpg

WILFRED JAMES McNEIL, JR.

Washington, D.C.

Here was a busy little man. Even when there was nothing to do Mac could usually find something to do to keep him occupied. The shortest man in his class included on his yearly calendar of important activities the Boat Club and the Rifle team. Out of their season he managed to get in quite a bit of recreational sailing, as well as spending some time adding to his classical record collection. Mac was a firm believer in efficiency, and this was always exemplified in his mania for order and neatness. This desirable characteristic of orderliness will prove a valuable aid in his future work.


The Class of 1943 was graduated in June 1942 due to World War II. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.

1943 McNeil LB.jpg

WILFRED JAMES McNEIL, JR.

Washington, D.C.

Here was a busy little man. Even when there was nothing to do Mac could usually find something to do to keep him occupied. The shortest man in his class included on his yearly calendar of important activities the Boat Club and the Rifle team. Out of their season he managed to get in quite a bit of recreational sailing, as well as spending some time adding to his classical record collection. Mac was a firm believer in efficiency, and this was always exemplified in his mania for order and neatness. This desirable characteristic of orderliness will prove a valuable aid in his future work.


The Class of 1943 was graduated in June 1942 due to World War II. The entirety of 2nd class (junior) year was removed from the curriculum.

Loss

From A-4 Skyhawk:

During the squadron's [Attack Squadron (VA) 66] deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, the commanding officer, Commander Wilfred James McNeil, was killed in A4D-2 BuNo 142776 accident during a practice Carrier Controlled Approach.

The carrier was USS Intrepid (CV 11).

Other Information

From the Class of 1943 anniversary book "25 years later…":

Mac was born on 8 October, 1920 in Grinnell, Iowa and reported to the Academy on 12 July, 1939. After graduation he served aboard the destroyers USS McCOOK and NEWCOMB, the latter receiving the Navy Unit Citation Mac went aboard the carrier USS TICONDEROGA which also received the Navy Unit Citation. Aboard these ships Mac engaged in: Atlantic Convoys, Marshalls Campaign, Marianas Campaign, Palau Leyte, Leyte Gulf, Okinawa and the Occupation of Japan. After flight training at Corpus Christi, Pensacola and Banana River, Florida, he reported to Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED NINETY-FIVE and then duty as a test project pilot at Patuxent River. Duty as Executive Officer, Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE and Photo Squadrons SIXTY-ONE brought Mac ample combat experience in Korea.

In August 1954, he attended George Washington University for a post graduate course in Comptroller Ship which was followed by a tour at the Naval Air Material Center. Mac then went to sea as the Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron SIXTY-SIX. It was on this duty while on an operational flight from the carrier USS INTREPID in the Mediterranean that Mac lost his life in a plane crash. Mac wore the following medals: the Navy Commendation Ribbon with Combat “V", Two Navy Unit Citations and One Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Service, American Area, European-African-Middle East Area, Asiatic-Pacific with five bronze stars, WW II Victory, Occupation, Philippine Liberation with two bronze stars, Korean Service with two stars, United Nations and National Defense Service. His distinguished Flying Cross citation reads:

For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Pilot of a Jet Fighter Plane in Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE, based on board the U.S.S. PRINCETON, during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 20 April 1953. As Strike Leader of ten jet planes on a combat mission over enemy-held territory, Lieutenant Commander McNeil executed a surprise attack on a supply and billeting area consisting of approximately one hundred sixty-five buildings and housing for an estimated two thousand hostile troops, despite adverse weather and low visibility. Knowing the area to be heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns, he used the mountains to screen the approach of the flight, skillfully maneuvering the first run with no opposing enemy fire. Carrying out a second and third attack in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, he directed his group in destroying fifty-five buildings, in damaging thirty-five others and in leaving a large area in flames. By his outstanding leadership, daring initiative and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Commander McNeil was largely responsible for the success of the mission and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

He is survived by his wife Patricia Reynolds and their children: Martha Susan, Mary Katherine, James Michael Robert Jeffrey, and Wilfred James Ill. Pat remarried and is now Mrs. B. J. McGlinchy of 209 44th Street, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451

Wilfred was survived by his wife, Patricia, and daughters Martha and Mary. (Information from August 1959 issue of Shipmate.) He has a memorial marker on his parents' and brother's gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery.

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Commander Wilfred J. McNeil, Jr., United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving with Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VF-153), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 20 April 1953.

General Orders: All Hands (August 1954)
Action Date: April 20, 1953
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighter Squadron 153 (VF-153)

Related Articles

William Manby, Jr. ’43 was also lost while serving as commanding officer of Attack Squadron (VA) 66.

Percy Williams, Jr. '55 was lost from a different squadron earlier in Intrepid's 1959 deployment.


Class of 1943

Wilfred is one of 85 members of the Class of 1943 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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