Dear Editor -- June 23rd's edition of the paper was filled with page after page of accolades spewing forth about the of Michael Jackson. The other day, they had a couple of paragraphs on Ed McMahon's Hollywood career and aptly noted he died a pauper. Is something wrong with American journalism?
Colonel ED McMahon Died as a War Hero !
He wanted to be a Marine fighter pilot. The US was building up their
military force, but they were not at war yet and the Navy required all
its potential Navy and Marine pilots to have two years of college. So
Ed started classes at Boston College.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Army and the Navy both dropped the
college requirement and Ed applied to the 20 Marines. His primary
flight training was in Dallas and then he went to Pensacola, Florida.
He was carrier qualified, which means he knew how to perform a
controlled crash of his single engine fighter, onto the rolling deck
of a Navy floating runway.
It took Ed almost two years to get through all the Navy flight
training. His problem was he was a very good pilot and the Marines
needed flight instructors. He had a great command presence and public
speaking ability, which landed him in the classroom, training new baby
His orders to the Pacific fleet and the chance to fly combat missions
off a carrier came in the spring of 1945, on the same day the Atomic
bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Of course his orders where changed. He
never went to sea and he was out of the Marines in 1946.
Ed stayed in the USMC as a reserve officer. He became a successful
personality in the new TV medium, after the war. His Marine command
presence helped. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.
He never got to fly his fighter aircraft, but he saw his share of raw
combat. He flew the Cessna O -1E Bird Dog, which is a single engine
slow moving unarmed plane. He functioned as an artillery spotter for
the Marine batteries on the ground and as a forward controller for the
Navy & Marine fighter / bombers who flew in on fast moving jet
engines, bombed the area and were gone in seconds. Captain Ed was
still circling the enemy looking for more targets, all the time taking
North Korean and Chinese ground fire.
He stayed with the Marines as a reserve officer and retired in 1966 as
The world knows Ed as Ed McMahon of the Johnny Carson, Tonight Show.
One night I was watching the show when the subject of Colonel McMahon
earning a number of Navy Air Medals came up. Carson, a former Navy
officer, understood the significance of these medals, but McMahon
shrugged it off, saying that if you flew enough combat missions they
just sort of gave them to you. McMahon flew 85 combat missions over
North Korea; he earned every one of those Air Medals. The casualty
rate, for flying forward air controllers in Korea some times exceeded
50% of a squadron’s manpower. McMahon was lucky to have gotten home
from that war.
Once a Marine, always a Marine. When the public was spitting (taking
their personal safety into their own hands) at Marines on the streets
of Southern California during Vietnam, Colonel McMahon was taking
Marines off the streets and into his posh Beverly Hills home. I spoke
to a retired Marine aircrew member the day Colonel McMahon died and he
personally remembered seeing McMahon at numerous Marine Air Bases in
California in the 1960s. He was known for going to the Navy hospitals
and visiting the wounded Marines and Sailors from this country’s
conflicts, even in the last years of his life.
Colonel McMahon presented awards and decorations to fellow Marines and
attended many a Marine ceremony and the annual Marine Corps Birthday
Ball. He stayed true to his Corps as a board member of the Marine
Corps Scholarship Fund and as the honorary chairman of the National
Marine Corps Aviation Museum. After retiring from the Marine Reserve,
one night on the Johnny Carson show, members of the California Air
National Guard came onstage.
Colonel McMahon was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Air Guard
in front of millions of Americans who watched it happen live. You
will not see anything like that on TV anymore. The three core values
of a United States Marine are; honor, courage and commitment. This is
what a Marine is taught from the first day of training and this is
what that Marine believes. That was Colonel Edward P. McMahon Jr.
USMCR Retired. Before he was a nation al figure he was a true combat
hero and a patriot the nation needed then and this country needs now.
Your war is over ...
Thank you; Colonel McMahon.
23 June 2009 -- Semper Fi Sir -- Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
This article was forward to the Post Via, Sgt Mack which came from Glenda M -- email@example.com