John Matheson McAlpine

NO. 17723  •  23 May 1927 – 24 June 1952

Died 24 June 1952 in Korea, aged 25 years Interment: Forest Lawn Cemetery, Union, South Carolina


JOHN M. McALPINE was born in Union, South Carolina, on 23 May 1927, the second youngest of six children. Johnny lost his father at an early age and was reared by his mother, Mrs. Joe Ketchin McAlpine, of Union, South Carolina.

The wisdom of his mother instilled in the young Johnny Mac an inner confidence and faith in God. This, combined with his surroundings in the beautiful pine forests of South Carolina, explained the Johnny Mac that we all later came to know and respect.

His early school years were spent in Union where he graduated from high school in 1944. He attended Georgia Tech for a year but then decided to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Pascagoula, Mississippi, during the summer of 1945.

It was only a short time later ‑ in July 1946 ‑ that the quiet and friendly Johnny joined the cadet corps at West Point. Our fond remembrances of Johnny Mac date from that July. He joined Company I from the flankers in yearling year, and it was as if he had been with us from the start.

A good description of Johnny Mac during these years is furnished by one of his roommates who wrote the following for the HOWITZER. "Johnny Mac is one of those people who has never been dejected for a second even at West Point. He's never been too busy to help a classmate. Lucky at everything, a lot of fun, considerate of everybody, and a hive at everything." This is the same Johnny Mac who always had a smile and a helping hand for everyone.

Upon graduation Johnny chose the Air Force. He entered flight training at San Angelo, Texas, and then followed the usual route to Selma, Alabama, for completion of flight training.

In August 1951 he went to St. Louis where he married his Carol, the girl he had met during his third year at West Point. The newly married couple traveled to Luke Air Force Base for their first station, but it was only a short time later that Johnny received orders for Korea.

Prior to leaving for Korea, Johnny Mac and his bride returned to South Carolina to spend Christmas with the family. In January he left his wife, his family. and his friends for what was to be his final assignment.

John M. McAlpine, first lieutenant, USAF, while flying as a fighter pilot, 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 18th Fighter Bomber Group, was killed in action as a result of participation in the Korean operations on 24 June 1952. Earlier, he had successfully completed numerous combat missions in an F‑51 type aircraft from 10 February to 25 April 1952.

His citation says in part: "While participating in aerial flights against forces of the enemy in the Korean Campaign, First Lieutenant John M. McAlpine distinguished himself ... by flying at dangerously low altitude in adverse weather over enemy ‑ held territory, rocketed, strafed, and bombed enemy supplies, troops, equipment, and transportation facilities. By his aggressive leadership, and courage, and by his superior judgment and flying skill, First Lieutenant McAlpine has brought great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."

There were some personal remembrances of John from his family and his wife. At home, in Union, South Carolina, they remembered his good humor and his kindness as the most important characteristics that were always apparent. His wife, Carol writes: "I feel very humble, for I know I never express his wisdom and courage or the beauty of his nature. I have such great love for Johnny and admiration for his life. When in doubt myself, I know I shall always turn to Johnny and draw upon his strength  for decisions. Though we are all indebted for his personal sacrifice in Korea, I am sure that those of us who knew him are left with a far greater value ‑ the pleasure and inspiration gained from knowing one with such such faith and high standards."

So to John M. McAlpine resting peacefully at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Union, South Carolina, this sincere tribute from your friends and loved ones: "Your good humor, kindness, helpfulness, strength, and faith are remembered by all of us."                                                

‑ R. H. L.