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Flying has been a love of mine since I was a young boy. Some of my first hero’s were Douglas Bader, Chuck Yeager and The Flying Tigers. Other Heros were my Dad, M/Sgt Michael F. Meehan and Larry Ryan. Before I cover my flying experiences I want to give you a link to the WEB Sites for my Heroes. Please click on the picture or the name to go to their WEB Site or Blog.
E-mail comments to
JJ Meehan at
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JJ Meehan's Family Tree
M/Sgt Michael F. MeehanWorld War II started in Europe in 1937, but the United States entered the war when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Dad had tried to join the Navy after he finished high school in 1932, but was turned down because of several problems including a history of Rheumatic Fever, Flat Feet and a Hammer Toe. As soon as World War II started, Dad was sent a draft notice and was initially deferred due to the Hammer Toe, but was finally inducted January 21st, 1943. Dad was sent to Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana for advance training in Finance
Michael married Marguerite Mary Doyle, daughter of James Eugene Doyle and Sarah Ellen Lynch, on 20 Jun 1942 in St Luke Catholic Church, Detroit, MI. (Marguerite Mary Doyle was born on 22 Jul 1913 in Guelph Ontario, Canada, died on 15 Mar 1961 in Woodbridge, Virginia, USA and was buried on 17 Mar 1961 in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA.)
Ensign Larry J. Ryan"Ensign Lawrence (Larry) J. Ryan son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ryan of DeWitt, was killed Saturday afternoon (March 23rd, 1968) when the TF9-J Cougar Jet he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. It is reported that Ensign Ryan’s plane crashed into the water ahead of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington after it was catapulted from the carrier deck in a take-off operation. Ryan ejected from the plane but was unable to free himself from his parachute while in the water. An intensive search was conducted but Ryan’s body was not recovered.
Lawrence Ryan was born in Dewitt on February 25th, 1944 to Joseph L. and Mary McDermott Ryan. He graduated from St. Joseph’s High School and Loras College in Dubuque. He began Navy pilot training at Pensacola Navel Air Station in Florida in 1966 and was later stationed at Kingsville, Texas. On August 12th, 1967 he and Randa Schmidt were married in Anna Marie, Florida.
A Memorial Mass for Ensign Ryan will be celebrated at 11:00 am Saturday in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. A Mass was also celebrated Tuesday in Kingsville, Texas.
Surviving are his wife parents, three brothers, Midshipman Dennis Ryan of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland and Martin and Joseph both at home; three sisters, Mrs. Phil McGrath, Corpus Christi, Texas, Mrs. Allen Dierksen, Chula Vista, California and Teresa at home; maternal grandfather Cleo McDermott and paternal grandfather, Thomas Ryan of Davenport."
Lt. Terry (Terence) Roach The " BATTLE FOR KHE SANH" On the morning of 8 February, elements of the 1O1D irnent, 325C Division launched the first daylight attack against the 26th Marines.At 0420, a reinforced battalion with the 1st Platoon, P11/9, which occupied Hill 64 some 500 meters west of the 1/9 perimeter. Following their usual pattern, the North Vietnamese tried to disrupt the Marines' artillery support with simultaneous bombardment of the base. To prevent friendly reinforcements from reaching the small hill the enemy also shelled the platoon's parent unit and, during the fight, some 350 mortar and artillery rounds fell on the 1/9 positions. The NVA assault troops launched a two-pronged attack against the northwestern and western corners of the A/1/9 outpost and either blew the barbed wire with bangalore torpedoes or threw canvas on top of the obstacles and rolled over them. The enemy soldiers poured into the trenchline and attacked the bunkers with RPGs and satchel charges. They also emplaced machine guns at the edge of the penetrations and pinned down those Marines in the eastern half of the perimeter who were trying to cross over the hill and reinforce their comrades. The men in the northeastern sector, led by the platoon commander, Second Lieutenant Terence R. Roach, Jr., counterattacked the North Vietnamese, and became engaged in savage hand-to-hand fighting. While rallying his troops and directing fire from atop an exposed bunker, Lieutenant Roach was mortally wounded." Lt. Roach received the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions in Vietnam.
Lieutenant Roach is also listed on the Vietman Veteran's Memorial, please visit THE VIRTUAL WALL VIETNAM MEMORIAL - www.VIRTUALWALL.com, for more information.
In 1928, Bader joined the RAF, but, on 14 December 1931 at Woodley airfield near Reading, lost both of his legs in an aircraft crash attempting a slow roll at very low level following jibes about his not wanting to perform aerobatics that day. Bader recovered, undertook refresher training, passed his check flights, and attempted to stay in the RAF but was retired for medical reasons on 30 April 1933. After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he re-entered the armed forces and requested that he be assigned to the RAF. Posted to a fighter squadron in 1940 Bader scored his first kills during the Battle of France, over Dunkirk.
During the Battle of Britain Bader became a friend and supporter of Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his "Big Wing" experiments, which led him into conflict with Air Vice Marshal Keith Park. In 1941 Bader participated in fighter sweeps over Europe as the RAF adopted a more offensive stance, but in August 1941 he was forced to bail out over German-occupied France, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. While a POW, Bader made as much trouble as possible, escaping in August 1942, only to be recaptured and sent to Colditz Castle, the camp for POWs who made repeated escape attempts. He also met and befriended Adolf Galland, a prominent German Ace, during his imprisonment. Liberated in April 1945, he requested a return to action but that request was denied. Douglas Bader ended the conflict with 22 aerial victories scored in the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, and left the RAF for good in February 1946.
Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He is widely considered to be the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force's retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.
His career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). Although Scott Crossfield was the first man to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter exceeded Mach 2.4. He later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager's flying career spans more than sixty years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, even into the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman (November 20, 1927 - August 20, 2008) was a United States Army helicopter pilot who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Battle of Ia Drang during the Vietnam War. During the battle, he flew through gunfire numerous times, bringing supplies to a trapped American battalion and flying dozens of wounded soldiers to safety. Freeman was a wingman for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions.
. . . over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see an unarmed Huey. But ... it doesn't seem real because no Medi-Vac markings are on it. Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses. And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! . . .
Maj. Jay Zeamer Jr."
Jay Zeamer Jr., a World War II bomber pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for fighting off enemy attacks during a photographic mapping mission, died 15 March 2007 at a nursing home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He was 88. Zeamer, a major in the Army Air Forces, also earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars and two Air Medals for his service in the South Pacific. He was awarded the nation's highest military honor for his actions on June 16, 1943, after volunteering for the mapping mission over an area near Buka in the Solomon Islands that was well-defended by the Japanese. .
Old "666", B17 is a video of Major Zeamer's flight on June 16th 1943.
Lt. Colonel William N. Reed - Flying Tiger"
During the dark, early days of World War II, when the Imperial Japanese army, navy, and air force were running roughshod over Asia and the Pacific, it seemed that nothing could stop them. Only a small band of American mercenary fliers based in Burma and known as the Flying Tigers, led by a leather-faced fighter named Claire Chennault, seemed able to challenge and defeat the Japanese . . ."
William (Bill) Reed was one of the initial volunteers in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) that would become known as the Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers were stationed in China and Burma between September 1941 and July 4th, 1942. He later served in the 14th Army Air Force under Claire Chennault in the China-Burma-India Theater (C-B-I) as the Flight Leader of 7th Fighter Squadron and later the Commander of the 3rd Fighter Group. During the time that Lt. Colonel William (Bill) Reed served in China between September 1941 and December 1944 - - he was officially credited with 9.0* aerial victories and 8.0* aircraft destroyed on the ground. While serving with the American Volunteer Group (AVG) Bill flew seventy-five missions and had 3.0* aerial victories and was credited with destroying eight enemy aircraft on the ground (March 18, 1942), plus other "probables." From September of 1943 to December of 1944 - Bill would be credited with an additional 6.0 aerial kills while flying with the 14th Army Air Force, which made Bill an "ACE ". The Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame states that during World War II --
Francis E. Meehan "
Francis E. Meehan served in the European Theater as a member of Darby's Rangers. Francis was captured in the Anzio Campaign and was a prisoner of War for 15 months. He earned 3 good conduct medals, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, 2 Letters of Commendation, 2 Letters of Appreciation and a Sharpshooter Medal. Theresa Meehan-Currie, his daughter stated: "He was Irish to the core, he loved family, his Irish roots, good Irish whiskey and Irish music. I remember as a child spending the night at my aunts in Brooklyn and in the evening three of their friends came over and played Irish music and danced. I rememer my Dad was there too and there was singing, it was the first time I'd seen the Irish jig. That's part of my heritage I'll never forget.”
Francis E. Meehan is not related to the JJ Meehan Family but as a boy I grow-up reading and believing that the Darby Rangers were the best of the best in World War II. The todays US Army Rangers and Special Forces had their beginnigs with the Darby Rangers. I never know Francis Meehan but he had a huge influence on my life and our county. .
The Bernie Doyle Australian Soldier (Digger) "
Bernie was born and raised in a small rural community outside Tamworth called Pillamore. He enlisted in the Australian Army at Charlestown (Newcastle) NSW on October 26 1916.
Michael was a bachelor and before the war and work in New Orleans he had lived with family in Aurora, IL after the war he lived the remainder of his life with Maurice and Mary O'Connor in Denison, Iowa.
From a letter dated 1983 and written by John H. O'Connor, a lawyer in Vail, Iowa
Michael 'O'Connor was a Civil War veteran and a bachelor who lived in Vail Iowa with Maurice O'Connor and Mary Hickey in the early 1900's. I don't recall what year he came there, but it was before 1912, and the information I can give on him is that as an immigrant he got a job as a stevedore on the docks in New Orleans, and when the Civil War broke out, he with a number of other stevedores, mostly immigrants, were marched with bayonets at their backs and forced to enlist in the Southern Army, and that the Southern Army was so short of uniforms that he was placed in a uniform of the Northern Army and was wounded at the " Battle of Resaca " near Dalton, Georgia in the northwestern corner just south of Chattanooga and left on the field for dead. He was discovered by the Northern Army who thought he was one of their members because of his uniform and was taken to the hospital at Rock Island, Illinois, where he recovered, but the Army was unable to find any record of him. He explained to them what happened, and after his recovery, he enlisted in the Northern Army and received an honorable discharge.
John C. Nicholson
At age 72, John died April 15, 1990 at his home after an extended illness. He was born on January 3, 1918 in Denison, Iowa, the son of Clair W. and Marie (O'Connor) Nicholson. He had been a resident of Ann Arbor since 1964. He was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and he had been a Master Chief E9 Gunner Mate in the United States Navy. He was a WWII veteran. He served in the Navy from 1940-69. He is survived by: three sisters Claire Marie Ledwidge of Ann Arbor, Mary Elizabeth Montange of Chelsea, and Grace Joan Plante of Erving, MA; one brother, Benjamin James Nicholson of Union City, TN. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Clair Patrick Nicholson on December 2, 1981. Mass of Christian burial will be held at 1:00 pm on Wednesday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church with the Rev. Father Florentine Santiago as celebrant. Burial will be made in St. Thomas Cemetery. Friends may call at the MUEHLJG CHAPEL where the Rosary will be recited at 8:00 p.m. today. Memorial tributes may be made to the St. Jude Shrine, c/o St. Dominic's Catholic Church, Trumbull Ave., Detroit, MI
John married Margaret Ann Maccario, daughter of Joseph Maccario and Unknown. They had one daughter, Margaret Ann. If you have any information on Margaret Ann please contact us.
Jack A. O'Connor
John A O'Connor was a member of the Army Air Corp during World War I. He was the third child of Thomas and Mary (O'Donnell) O'Connor and was born on a farm in East Boyer township near Denison, April 21, 1895.
He received his education in the St Rose of Lima Parochial school, Denison, and graduated from the Denison high school. He had entered his third year at the University of Iowa when he enlisted in the army, serving in the aviation branch during the world War. John O'Connor was married to Catharine Lally, July 27, 1921, and to this union four children were born; Patricia, John, Thomas and Jerry, who, with his wife, survive him.
Joseph A. Doyle
Uncle Joe (Joseph Anthony Doyle) was without a doubt my favorite Uncle and I believe my mother’s favorite brother. Irene Giles writes in her book that Uncle Joe enlisted in the First Depot Battalion, London, Ontario during World War One, served in Canada and was discharged by reason of demobilization on January 14th, 1919, and came home to help is father on the farm. After moving to Detroit, he worked at odd jobs and barbered for his brother, Tom. He was a very gentle person, and did not marry.
James F. Doyle
Uncle Joe’s twin brother was Uncle Jim (James Francis Doyle), who came to Detroit when World War I broke out and joined the United States Army. Uncle Jim did not return to Canada after the war but chose to go west, settling in Omaha, Nebraska and opening a restaurant7. He must have excelled in the food business because he stayed in it until he retired. During World War II, he was an army cook stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. In 1945, he moved to Seattle and then retired in Bellingham, Washington where he died on January 19th, 1984”. I never met Uncle Jim, but was told he was an out going person who loved the ladies (Just the opposite of his brother Uncle Joe). When Jeannie and I got married he sent us $100.00, which was a lot of money in 1967.
Sheriff Thomas R. Meehan Sheriff Meehan was sheriff of Crawford County Iowa for eight years. He farmed for a number of years and later became interested in politics, being elected sheriff of Crawford county in 1896. This office he filled for seven years, handling many desperate law breakers and proving himself efficient and capable. After moving to Nebraska, he also served as a guard in the Nebraska state penitentiary at Lincoln for three years.
His marriage to Miss Margaret Reilly of Friend, Neb, took place on April 30, 1913. They lived at Denison for some years, then moved to a farm near Redfield, S D. From Redfield they moved to Friend, Neb, which was his home when death called him.
Cardinal William Henry Keeler
William Henry Keeler was born March 4, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Thomas L. Keeler and Margaret T. (Conway) Keeler. He was raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where he attended St. Mary School and Lebanon Catholic High School. He received a B.A. from St. Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Philadelphia, in 1952 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1956.
He was ordained a priest on July 17, 1955, in the Church of the Holy Apostles, Rome. On returning from Rome in 1956, he became assistant pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Marysville, Pennsylvania, and secretary of the diocesan Tribunal. In 1958 he was assigned to study Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and in 1961 received his doctorate from that institution. During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) he served as secretary to Bishop George L. Leech and was appointed a peritus to the Council.
In the years following the Council he served as Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, and Vicar General in the Harrisburg diocese. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg on September 21, 1979, and installed as the Bishop of Harrisburg on January 4, 1984. Bishop Keeler was named the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989 and appointed to the College of Cardinals by the late Pope John Paul II in November 1994.
Brother Gerald Muller CSC
Born in North Dakota and educated in the public schools and Notre Dame University, Brother Muller has studied with the finest of choral directors including Robert Shaw, Sir David Willcocks, William Mathias, John Alldis, Frank Pooler who started the Carpenters, Norman Luboff and Helmut Rilling, the world's authority on the music of J.S. Bach. He was a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the Texas Choral Directors Association. He belongs to the South Austin Rotary Club and serves as their musical director providing music for weekly meetings. During his high school teaching years in California, he taught Mark Harmon, William Katt, Jr. and Jerry Mathers, "the Beaver," of television fame. Ed Begley, Jr. played in his high school band as did Don Williams, the younger brother of John Williams, academy award winning composer of Star Wars Trilogy fame and friend of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
Brother Gerald Muller teaches music history at St. Edward's University. He has been teaching and conducting choral groups in Austin for almost thirty years. He is a Brother of Holy Cross who in 2006 celebrated his Sixtieth Jubilee. His former students include Cardinal William Levada , Prefect of the Congegation of Sacred Doctrine and Archbishop George Niederauer of San Fransisco City. A third former student is Gerald Wilkerson, Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles. . . Please visit his WEB Site for more information at Brother Gerald Muller CSC .
Clare MeehanClare (Grandma Clare) Meehan was 51 when my parents died and she became the guardian of two teenagers. Anyone at the age of 51 who accepts the responsibility for two teenagers is a Saint. Grandma Clare is also My Hero. . I was 18 at the time and my sister Maureen was 12. I can only image the courage, energy and love Grandma Clare must have had to take on two teenagers at the time when most adults would be saying they were thankful that their kids are grown and they could finally relax.
Grandma Clare shared all of her worldly goods, which included love, respect, money, home, food, clothing, education, transportation, and more with Maureen and me. When our daughter, Jenny, was born, my wife Jeanne Marie Drexler Meehan started calling Clare - “Grandma Clare” out of respect for the woman, who we considered a saint. Later, as Maureen and I had children they also affectionately called her “Grandma Clare”. I only hope that we gave to our children a small portion of the love that we received from Grandma Clare O’Connor Meehan.
Miss TurnerMiss Turner was my 4th Grade Teacher at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, USA. She was an excellent teacher and was a huge influence on my life. She was also the first teach and maybe the only teacher I loved. She was my first love (Puppy Love) and I would do anything to stay after class, e.g., clean the black boards. If I was really lucky she would drive me home. She had a 1953 Chevy convertible that was a hot car in 1954.
Miss Turner and a young soldier who I met at the Ft. Belvoir Library were a huge influence on my life. The young soldier would become a Chaplain Assistant and was the reason I became an Altar Boy. I can not remember his name. If you have any information on Miss Baker or the young solder who was a Librarian and later a Chaplain Assistant at Ft Belvoir in 1954 and 1955 please contact us.
Sister Caedmon Earle, OPSr. Caedmon was my 7th Grade Teacher at St. Dominic's School in Washington DC in 1957 and she was an INDIVIDUAL who was at ease in her distinctive habits, of thinking and dressing and speaking and teaching in her distinctive ways, of recording and sharing her thoughts and prayers and artistry, and of putting the community itself at ease.
Sr. Caedmon taught me to reach for the stars and enjoy my journey through life. She was as comfortable with boxing gloves as she was teaching English or Math. She taught me to box and to take calculated risk and not be afraid of failure. She gave me the gift of enjoying the process of learning.
You can visit the WEB Site for Sr. Caedmon's Convent at Dominican Motherhouse
This WEB Site has links to over 4,000 members of John J. Meehan Family.
Family History and Genealogy Site
This WEB site contains history of several Surnames e.g., Meehan, Doyle, Lynch, Ayers, Ryan and McDonald. In addition there are links to several Family Genealogy WEB Sites plus several other interesting WEB Sites developed by John J. Meehan. There are also links to other Genealogy Resources and Archives.
Fly High and Fast
Flying Blogs by JJ Meehan
This WEB Site contains links to blogs (stories) on Ireland.
A salute to America by John Wayne
"Cruzin the Avenue"
This WEB Site brings back memories of the 50's and 60's.
E-mail comments to
JJ Meehan at
firstname.lastname@example.org Please visit my other WEB Sites:
JJ Meehan's Family Tree
JJ Meehan at email@example.com
Please visit my other WEB Sites:
JJ Meehan's Family Tree
This Web Site was created 13 February 2010 by John J. Meehan