Retired July 31, 1969. Died Nov. 21, 1986.
General John Paul McConnell is the sixth chief of staff of the U. S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. As chief of staff of the U. S. Air Force, General McConnell serves in a dual capacity. He is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which, as a body, acts as the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, and the secretary of defense. In his other capacity, he is responsible to the secretary of the Air Force for managing the vast human and materiel resources of the world's most powerful aerospace force.
The general has a distinguished military career which began in 1932 with his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A native of Booneville, Ark., General McConnell graduated magna cum laude from Henderson Brown College at Arkadelphia, Ark., with a bachelor of science degree in 1927. He entered West Point a year later and, at the time of his graduation in 1932, was First Captain of the Corps of Cadets. After taking flying training at Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas, he received his wings in 1933.
A fighter pilot during his early years in the then Army Air Corps, General McConnell gained broad experience through a variety of operational and administrative assignments, including duty as assistant executive in the Office of the Chief of Air Forces in Washington. Subsequently, he served in key Air Force positions in both Asia and Europe.
In 1943 he became chief of staff of the China-Burma-India Air Force Training Command at Karachi, India, and remained in Asia for the rest of the war. While senior air staff officer, Air Command Southeast Asia, and deputy commander of the Third Tactical Air Force in 1944, he participated in combat operations against the Japanese in Burma. In 1946 he was named senior air adviser to the Chinese Government and, at the same time, commanded the Air Division, Nanking Headquarters Command.
The general returned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington in 1947 to become chief of the Reserve and National Guard Division and, the next year, was appointed chief of the Air Force's Civilian Components Group. Assigned to England in 1950, he served as deputy commander and later, commander of the Third Air Force. He then took command of the 7th Air Division of the Strategic Air Command, commanding the Third Air Force at the same time.
This was followed by a four-year tour as director of Plans at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. In 1957 he was named commander of Second Air Force, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and four years later returned to Strategic Air Command to become vice commander in chief.
In 1962 General McConnell was assigned to Europe as deputy commander in chief of the United States European Command and promoted to the rank of general. He was appointed vice chief of staff of the U. S. Air Force in August 1964, and assumed his present position on Feb. 1, 1965. His appointment as chief of staff was extended to July 1969.
His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (Army) with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force) with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, and numerous foreign awards, including Commander of the Order of the British Empire and the Legion of Honor - Degree of Commandet (France).
In June 1965, he was presented an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. He also received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in June 1966.