By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Victor Valley Museum reopened to the public on March 24, featuring the exhibit “Military in the Mojave.” The exhibit features artifacts and stories of the role that local residents played during wartime, including Air Force Capt. Joseph C. McConnell, Jr. and Purple Heart recipient Army Lt. Manuel Rodriguez.
Former Apple Valley resident Capt. McConnell, Jr. is the all-time No. 1 Jet Ace in American history, and was based at George Air Force Base. He flew F-86 Sabres in the Korean War and shot down 16 enemy MiG-15 fighter jets between January and May 1953. Capt. McConnell’s story was immortalized in the 1955 motion picture, “The McConnell Story,” starring Alan Ladd and June Allyson. The Capt. McConnell Appreciation House, which was recently purchased by a private owner, is located at 20822 N. Outer Highway 18 in Apple Valley. A replica of his plane, Beauteous Butch, is on display at Apple Valley Airport. Capt. McConnell is buried at the Victor Valley Memorial Park alongside his wife, Pearl.
Lt. Manuel P. Rodriguez, an Oro Grande native, fought in World War II. In January 1942, he was killed in action during the Pacific Battle of Bataan in the Philippines. Lt. Rodriguez received the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Defense Ribbon, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Badge and Marksmanship Badge. A memorial plaque at the Oro Grande Cemetery pays tribute to Rodriguez.
Victor Valley Museum is located at 11873 Apple Valley Rd, Apple Valley.While in the red tier, a 25% capacity guideline will be followed, including temporarily modified hours from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. For more information, please call (760) 240-2111 or visit them online.