Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.
Remembrance – Major General James E. McInerney Jr, USAF RetiredMajor General James Eugene McInerney, Jr,, USAF Retired, died of natural causes at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 14, 2014. He was 84.Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 3, 1930, where his parents Captain James E. McInerney and Rose Adikes McInerney were stationed at Springfield Armory, Jim was the eldest of five children. A true leader, he spent his entire life in service in the Army, Air Force and defense industrial base.
Jim entered West Point in June 1948 after a stint with the 82nd Airborne Division, which was still manned with many WW II combat veterans who endowed Jim with a fierce combat spirit that he kept throughout his lifetime.
At West Point Jim was the Captain of the Army Boxing Team and was the Eastern Intercollegiate Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1951 and 1952. He was very proud of the Class of ’52 and always kept in close touch with classmates. At graduation, Jim had to choose between trying out for the 1952 US Olympic Boxing Team or going to flight school to become a fighter pilot. He chose flying and never regretted it.
After his first assignment at Niagara Falls flying F-86s, he was posted to Korea. Jim shot down the last enemy MIG-15, piloted by a Chinese Communist, on May 10, 1955, as air combat continued well after the Korean Armistice was signed.
Jim’s next assignment was the Military Air Transport Service, ferrying newly-built fighter aircraft overseas. Jim made dozens of these risky high-altitude flights across the North Atlantic to Europe and North Africa before in-air refueling was operational for fighters. This invaluable flying experience marked Jim as an outstanding Air Force pilot.
In 1960 Jim earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Princeton University. Assigned to the Research and Development Section of the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada, the home of the Fighter Pilot, Jim conducted many Operational Test and Evaluation programs in F-105s during his three years there. This experience would prove invaluable later in the skies over Vietnam.
On July 27, 1963, Jim married the love of his life, Mary Catherine Hill, in the Catholic Chapel at West Point. He was soon assigned to the Royal Air Force Staff College at Bracknell, England, where the newly married couple formed many life-long friends. Their next assignment was in West Germany with the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In 1967, seeking duty in Southeast Asia, then Lt. Colonel McInerney was assigned as Commander of 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the largest squadron in the USAF. Jim had the daunting mission of leading pilots on “Wild Weasel” flights to suppress Soviet-built North Vietnamese air defenses, which were exacting heavy pilot losses and threatening US air superiority. While leading intense, hazardous combat operations over North Vietnam, Jim developed and trained his crews in new air tactics, inspired them through example, and personally destroyed 17 surface-to-air missile sites, a world record. Attesting to his superb leadership, he lost no aircrews in combat.
Jim is among the 40 most-decorated heroes of the Vietnam War, earning the Air Force Cross, three Silver Stars, and seven Distinguished Flying Crosses while completing 101 combat missions over North Vietnam. For his “distinguished combat leadership in pioneering the use of new tactics,” the Air Force Association recognized then Lt. Colonel McInerney with its “Citation of Honor” and for his exploits in combat and his mentoring junior officers designated him a “Living Legend.”
From 1968 to 1971 Jim was assigned to Pacific Air Force Headquarters, the National War College and the Pentagon, earning a second Master’s Degree in International Relations along the way. He then assumed command of the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing at Zweibrucken, West Germany in late 1971. Promoted early to Brigadier General, he was assigned in 1973 to Ankara, Turkey, as Chief of the Joint US Military Mission for Aid to Turkey. Soon promoted to Major General, he had assignments as Director of Military Assistance and Sales, Commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and finally as Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Analysis.
Retiring in 1980 after 28 years in the Air Force, Jim devoted his civilian working-life to serving our nation in leadership positions that strengthened our national security, industrial base and international relations. Initially with McDonnell Douglas Corporation, Jim then became Vice President of Membership and Chapters at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), a leading organization in promoting technology, advanced weaponry and training for our war-fighters. Jim helped increase membership from 25, 000 to 60, 900.
As a founder and volunteer Executive Director, Jim played a major role in obtaining support and financing for the American Air Museum in Britain at RAF Duxford, England, which honors the 30, 000 American airmen who gave their lives flying from UK bases in World War II. In June of 2000, in recognition of his diplomatic-business-military achievements, Her Majesty the Queen appointed Jim a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Jim was a past President of the British-American Business Association and the Jefferson Islands Club, as well as a member of long standing in the Order of the Mushrooms.
His loving wife of 48 years, Mary Catherine McInerney, passed away in July 2011.
He is survived by his daughter Anne, son-in-law Earl Comstock, and granddaughter Clare Comstock; son Jake and his girlfriend Debbie Seymour; sister Patsy Whitaker and brother-in-law Hubert; brother Tom (USMA ’59) and sister-in-law Mona; plus numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Catholic Mass will be held at Fort Myer Memorial Chapel at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at the Fort Myer Memorial Chapel, to be followed by a reception at the Fort Myer Officers Club. His family will have a Catholic Mass at the West Point Catholic Chapel at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, November 20, 2014. Jim will be buried immediately following at the West Point Cemetery, joining his wife Mary Catherine, Father (USMA ’23) and Mother, and brothers John (USMA ’59) and Dick (USMA ’60).
In lieu of flowers the family requests that contributions be made to “NDIA Washington DC Chapter Scholarship Fund” (the memo line should note: Maj Gen James E. McInerney Jr. Scholar Award) and mailed to: NDIA, Washington DC Chapter, 1831 Wainwright Drive
Reston, VA 20190-3441.