By Staff Reports
(Apple Valley)– Nearly 70 years after Air Force Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. returned to Apple Valley as a national hero, the Korean War triple jet ace is being honored with a signboard welcoming motorists to his adopted hometown of Apple Valley.
The signage is on the south side of Highway 18, just past the Mojave Narrows on land owned by the Lewis Center for Educational Research and its Charter School The Academic for Academic Excellence.
McConnell is the No. 1 jet-on-jet ace in the world, with 16 MiG fighters shot down during the Korean War, according to Don Holland, who paid for the sign along with vinyl banners on McConnell’s life on display at 20 local schools.
“Capt. McConnell was a remarkable man. He was based at George AFB in Victorville and lived in Apple Valley,” said Holland, who is writing a biography on the ace. “In fact, the residents of the Victor Valley raised money to build a new house for the McConnell family back in 1953. But today, few people know anything about this legend.”
“My father was a great patriot and protected freedom in our country and other countries,” said Trish McConnell, the captain’s eldest daughter. “It is refreshing that people are bringing back his memory. Our freedom is the most cherished thing we have. God bless America.”
Rick Piercy, chair of the Town of Apple Valley’s Historical Advisory Committee, said the group is looking at ways to honor McConnell.
San Bernardino County’s Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley recently opened an exhibit on the “Military in the Mojave,” which includes a McConnell display. In 2019, County Supervisor Robert Lovingood dedicated the Apple Valley Air Show to the memory of Capt. McConnell and all Korean War veterans. Capt. McConnell is buried near his wife Pearl “Butch” McConnell at Victor Valley Memorial Park in Old Town Victorville. For more information, visit the Capt. Joseph McConnell Jr. History Page on Facebook.