By Supervisor Robert Lovingood
(Apple Valley)– It’s not too soon to make plans for the Apple Valley Air Show, Saturday, Oct. 12. This year’s air show will be dedicated to Korean War triple jet ace Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. and all Korean War veterans.During the Korean War, 33,700 Americans died for the liberty of the 51 million South Koreans who are free today. Their legacy is the freedom and prosperity of the Republic of South Korea, a stark contrast with the poverty and oppression of the totalitarian North.
The High Desert played an important role in the Korean War. The Victor Valley tank battalion was called up for active duty. Local soldier, Ricardo Cardenas was a veteran of World War II and served two tours in Korea, earning the Silver Star for gallantry and South Korea’s second highest decoration for valor. George Air Force Base in Victorville produced some of the finest pilots. Capt. Ralph S. Parr, Jr. of Apple Valley was a double ace, shooting down 10 airplanes, including the final enemy aircraft of the war.
Another George AFB pilot, Capt. Joseph C. McConnell, Jr. shot down 16 enemy jet fighters, becoming triple ace and a national hero. President Eisenhower awarded him the nation’s second-highest decoration for valor. And High Desert residents donated funds and labor to build the McConnell family a house in Apple Valley. Tragically, Capt. McConnell died in August 1954 while testing an F-86H. He is buried at Victor Valley Memorial Park.