Dwight Sumner Muckley Jr. – First Lieutenant, United States Army

Muckley, Dwight Sumner Jr. Scond Lieutenant, Army Air Corps. SN O-398662.

Dwight Sumner Muckley, Jr. was born in Pennsylvania on April 23, 1914. Before moving to Pueblo, Colorado, he attended Westmont Upper Yoder High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His father, Dwight Sr., was transferred to Pueblo to work in the wire mill at the Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF& I) steel mill.

Dwight Jr. graduated in 1931 from Pueblo's Central High School, where his nickname was “Boot” and he was active in science club and debate.

Dwight Jr. is listed in the 1940 and 1941 Pueblo city directories as a junior supervisory inspector at CF & I, living at 1725 Lake Avenue.

After Pueblo Junior College, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps Reserve; his records show he was a Protestant. On July 26, 1940, Muckley completed basic flight training at Randolph AAF, Texas, followed by ten weeks of advanced flight training at Kelly AAF, Texas. After graduation, he was assigned to a fighter group in the Pacific.

The Pueblo Chieftain claimed that Muckley was once assigned to the “famous group of American fighter pilots” commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Buzz Wagner. (Author's note: In 1941, First Lieutenant Boyd D. Wagner was the commander of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines. On December 16, he shot down four Japanese planes, followed by one on December 15 and three in January 1942. He was America's first World War II ace, eventually shooting down eight Japanese aircraft, and helped raise America's morale after Pearl Harbor. Quickly promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Wagner was killed on November 29, 1942 while flying from Eglin Field, Florida to Maxwell Field, Alabama. Wagner High School at Clark AB, Philippines, was named in his honor.)

Muckley was a P-35 pilot assigned to the 34th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 35th Pursuit Group in the Pacific theater of operations effective October 4, 1941. The unit operated in the Philippines as an attachment to the 24th Pursuit Group, fighting near Bataan (December 1941 to April 1942) and Mindanao (April-May 1942).

On February 7, 1942 over Bali, Dutch East Indies, Muckley and his wingman attacked a flight of eight Japanese fighters. During the ensuing battle, Muckley's wingman became separated and was attacked by the Japanese, so Muckley broke off his attack on the Japanese formation and returned to defend his wingman. His plane was heavily damaged in the action, but he landed safely. For his actions, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, but it was not approved before his death.

On May 5, 1942, Muckley, three officers and two civilians were killed “in an airplane accident somewhere in the Far Eastern theater” according to his report of death. The author found that he was killed in a plane crash in Australia, but was unable to determine the crash location. He was initially buried in the American section of Ipswich Cemetery, Brisbane, Australia (Section 1, Block 3, Letter A) on May 9, 1942. Muckley was subsequently reburied in section 12, grave 1776 in Arlington National Cemetery. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on February 7, 1942.

According to Muckley's report of death, his wife was Sarah M. Muckley, 918 Second Avenue, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Her middle name may have been Margaret, construed by the Pueblo Chieftain as “Peg”. The Chieftain reported that Muckley was married to Peg Jones Muckley, formerly the secretary for Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Harve Tibbott. While her husband was overseas, she lived in Westmont, Pennsylvania. (Author's note: Tibbott represented Pennsylvania's 26th and 27th districts from January 3, 1939 until January 3, 1949. A native of Ebensburg, Pennsylovania, he was born May 27, 1885 and died December 31, 1969. He married Eldora Humphreys and they had one son, Rowland Humphreys Tibbott.)

Besides Sarah, Muckley was survived by his father and mother, Dwight S. (superintendent of the rolling mill and wire mill at CF& I) and Sue E. Muckley, living after the war at 427 W. 21st Street. Dwight Sr. resigned from CF & I effective December 31, 1946, and a farewell party was held in his honor on Saturday, January 18, 1947. Sue died August 12, 1952; she was survived by husband Dwight, sons Joseph E. (Seattle), H.J. (Houston), and Robert L. (543rd Medical Ambulance Company in Korea). After services at Pueblo's First Methodist Church, she was buried in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. There is no Pueblo obituary listing for Dwight Sr.; I believe he returned to Pennsylvania, but phone calls and letters to Muckleys in Pennsylvania yielded no additional information.

Muckley's brother Joseph E. graduated from Yale in 1930 and was an investment banker with Ferris & Hargrove in Seattle before the war. He entered the Air Corps on May 18, 1943 and went to the Pacific three months later. He was a staff officer at Nourarea (New Caledonia) and Hickam AAF, Hawaii, eventually becoming a full Colonel. In August 1945, after receiving a Bronze Star and serving 34 months in the Pacific, he became the chief of the plans division for the AAF Central Flying Training Command at Randolph AAF, Texas.

Arlington National Cemetery. Correspondence. 2003.
“Army Lists 151 Pueblo County Men As Having Died In Service.”  Pueblo Chieftain,  28 June 1946: 17.
Central High School. Yearbook. 1931.
“Col. Muckley Given Randolph Assignment.”  Pueblo Star-Journal And Sunday Chieftain  9 Sept. 1945: 4.
Frisbee, John L. “AAF's First Ace.”  Air Force  79.9 (Sept. 1996). <http://www.afa.org>  6 Nov. 2001.
“Lt. Muckley Given Distinguished Cross.”  Pueblo Chieftain  20 March 1943: 2.
“Memorial Services For Those Who Have Given Their Lives In This War.”  Pamphlet.
City Auditorium, Pueblo, Colorado, 18 April 1943.
“Muckley [Joseph] In Texas.”  Pueblo Chieftain  22 Aug. 1945: 2.
“Muckley Promoted.”  Pueblo Chieftain  16 Feb. 1944: 6.
“Muckley, Sue S.”  Obituary.  Pueblo Chieftain 13 Aug. 1952: 6; 14 Aug. 1952: 10.
“Muckley Farewell Party On Tuesday.”  Pueblo Chieftain 18 Jan. 1947: 3.
“New Department Chiefs At CF & I Named By Martin.”  Pueblo Star-Journal And Sunday Chieftain 1 Jan. 1947: 13.
“Pueblo Air Cadet Gets Advancement.”  Pueblo Chieftain  20 July 1940: 3.
Pueblo City Directory. Salt Lake City: Polk, 1930-50.
“Pueblo Flier Killed While On War Duty: LT Dwight Muckley Jr. Lost In Eastern War Theater.”  Pueblo Chieftain 10 June 1942: 1.
“Pueblo War Dead Honored At Memorial Rites Sunday.”  Pueblo Chieftain 19 April 1943: 7.
“Thousands Of Puebloans In Armed Forces; Twenty Have Lost Lives; Nine Decorated.”  Pueblo Star-Journal And Chieftain Special New Year's Edition. 1 Jan. 1943:
“'43 for Victory” Section: 7. “Tribute To Be Paid Pueblo War Heroes On Palm Sunday.”  Pueblo Chieftain  3 April 1943: 3.
“200 Pueblo Men Gave Lives In World War II.”  Pueblo Chieftain 1 Jan. 1956: 6E.
United States. Army. Military History Institute. Correspondence. May-June 2002.
United States. War Department. Office Of The Adjutant General. Report Of Death.  12 June 1942.
World War Two Combat Squadrons Of The United States Air Force: The Official Military Record Of Every Active Squadron. Maxwell AFB, AL: U.S.A.F. Historical  Division, Air University, 1969. New York: Smithmark, 1992.


Thomason, Michael P. For College and Country: Pueblo  Junior College Alumni Deaths in  World War Two, 1941-45. Indianapolis: AuthorHouse, 2004. (ISBN 1418420190)



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