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Lt. Jerry McDonnell  
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In his memory:

Lt. Jerry McDonnell (third from right)
VFP-62 circa 1960-62

Updated: October 9, 2015

[Webmaster's Note: This page is under construction and will be updated as tributes from family, friends, and former Navy members are received. Contact Webmaster on the link below.]

Family Photo via Cora McDonnell

    Memories and Tributes

  • (5/29/15)Jeremiah "Jerry" McDonnell, 84, died at his home in Tallahassee, FL Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

    He was born to Jeremiah Edward and Hazel Robinson McDonnell of Syracuse, N Y. He graduated from Eastwood High School at Syracuse and the State University of New York, Oswego where he was a member of Psi Phi fraternity. After college he enrolled in the Naval Cadet Program, U. S. Navy, becoming a jet fighter pilot serving in the Navy for eleven years. He flew during the end of the Korean War and during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After leaving the Navy, he received a graduate degree from Syracuse University and became a teacher, principal, and superintendent in the New York State Public Schools. After retirement he became Executive Director of Cuneen-Hackett Cultural Center in Poughkeepsie, NY for six years. Then his ambition was to sail around the world on his sailboat, Coriolis, but unfortunately illness prevented this.

    Jerry is survived by his wife, Cora (Davis), and two children, Jerry D. McDonnell of Tallahassee, FL and Erin Steward, Erin's husband, Scott, and two grandchildren, Gavin and Susie Steward of Long Valley, NJ and his sister, Kate Krzskowski, of Syracuse, NY and many nieces and nephews.

    A memorial service will be held in Syracuse, New York at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (Eastwood) on May 31 at 11:00.

  • (5/27/15):I enjoyed reading the In Memoriam page for Bruce Wilhelmy. My husband, Jerry McDonnell, was a pilot in VFP-62 when Bruce was in the squadron. If anyone remembers Jerry, he's the one that bought the big old wooden sailboat, a 47 ft. replica of a Chesapeake Bugeye. Bruce used to go sailing with us. The last time, just before he went to PAX River, he gave me his windbreaker to wear. It was a cold windy day on the St. Johns River. I gave it to Jerry to be returned, but Bruce had already left JAX. Bruce, I still have your jacket!

    Several years later, we were saddened to hear that he died in the crash of a test flight.

    Jerry was teaching Instrument Flight at NAS Millington, just north of Memphis, TN when I met him. His tour there was up, November 1959 and he was delighted to go to the Photo School at Pensacola. His hobby was photography. Completing the photo course he was assigned to VFP-62 Cecil Field.. Yes, there are pictures, but it will take some time to sort them out. Jerry's photos go back to 1953 at least. He flew Navy Air for eleven years.

    I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis quite well. Jerry and I had gone to a movie (downtown JAX) on an October Sunday night. He was called out of the movie, and I did not hear from him again for more than a week. Shortly, Pres. Kennedy's address to the country explained what was going on. Jerry called me when he got back from Norfolk, and I learned about losing the F8U up at Norfolk. I was working at St. Vincent's Hospital, JAX in the Hematology Lab. It was scary. I know what Jerry did during the crisis, but that's a long story. No, he did not fly over Cuba. The squadron was short on planes. He was asked to fly one of them up to Norfolk for repairs. It didn't make it. He ejected and was stuck for awhile in Norfolk.

    His duty tour was almost complete, and he decided to get out, go to graduate school at Syracuse University and ended up in school administration. He had been planning this for several years. We were married in 1963. Gee, that was a long time ago.

    We kept the 47-ft sailboat for ten years, and took it back to its home waters in the Chesapeake. Have had two more cruising size sailboats since then, as well as two children, Erin and Jerry D. and several dogs (part of the family).

    I do believe that Jerry's favorite memories were of flying for the Navy.

    Jerry, died last year, 2 April 2014, at age 84. Well, we're all getting older.

    Best wishes, Cora McDonnell, wife

Det33 1961-62, USS Intrepid Cruise Book photos

    Photos via Cora McDonnell

  • On 7 November 1962 Jerry McDonnell ejected from a VFP-62 RF-8A Crusader at Norfolk, VA. More information link to: http://www.ejection-history.org.uk/

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    Updated 3/9/18



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