Finding Fred McConnell
Aviation in the heartland has fewer than six degrees of separation.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, January 2008
Courtesy Lemuel C. Shattuck
(Page 2 of 2)
McConnell Air Force Base was dedicated to my father and two uncles, who represented all of the men and women who went off to fight in World War II, and any war, for that matter. They would have been humbled and shocked beyond belief to have such an honor.
Wichita folks had a tough job in 1954 when they decided to rename the base after a local person, and they just happened to finally choose three hometown brothers out of the countless choices who were the epitome of people’s ideals.
I remember the base dedication ceremony well. General H.R. Spicer made an indelible impression on me as a 10-year-old girl. Not only was he quite charming, but he was very attentive to my little brother, little sister, and me during the dedication. He was a very caring and loving person. His smile was from ear to ear, and the twinkle of his eyes was mesmerizing. He was most definitely not the usual stiff officer type.
It was simply spine-tingling to have “accidentally” encountered Lem, and then to have him tell me how my father and mother’s plane was found, piece by piece, in a Kansas wheat field, and then restored. My husband, Bruce, and I are planning a trip sometime in the next year, to go back and meet Lem in person, and also Mr. Bumgarner, the owner and restorer of the Fleet.