“The heroic service of Capt. Joseph C. McConnell has faded from memory over the years and it for this reason that the Aviation Museum of NH is planning to recognize his unique and gallant service with a celebration, “ said Jack Ferns, the museum’s executive director. After serving as a B-24 navigator in World War II, McConnell graduated flight training in 1948 and went on to fly F-86 Sabre jets over Korea. He downed 16 MIGs in just four months, becoming the highest scoring US ace of the war. He received both the Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star for his actions in combat. The New Hampshire native died when the F-86-H that he was test flying crashed near Edwards Air Force Base on August 25, 1954.
His feats and exploits were documented in a popular 1955 film, "The McConnell Story", which starred Alan Ladd and June Allyson and had its world premiere here in Dover at the Strand Theater. The McConnell Center on Locust Street (the former Dover High School and Dover Junior High School) is named for Dover's flying ace.
The exhibit will be opened at 10:00 AM at the Museum which is located at 27 Navigator Rd., Londonderry, NH with a video presentation on Korea during 1951 to 1953. At 11:00 AM the opening ceremonies will begin with series of speakers in the Slusser Aviation Learning Center and it is open to the public and attendance is included in the regular admission price. Korean War veterans are encouraged to attend. The Museum is located at Manchester- Boston Regional Airport and additional information is available at www.nhahs.org or www.facebook.com/nhahs. or by calling 669-4877,