Courtesy of his classmates
United States Military Academy, Class of 1946
John Donald McGregor
No. 15936 Class of 1946
Died 12 November 1948 at Eielson Field, Alaska, aged 26 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery
John Donald (Scotty) McGregor was born 7 October 1922 in Denver, Colorado. He grew up on a sheep ranch near Antonito, Colorado where his father was a flour miller, rancher and an officer and director in the Warshauer-McClure Sheep and Wool Company, one of the largest in Colorado. Scotty graduated from Regis High School in Denver and immediately entered Regis College, from which he received a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics before gaining his appointment to West Point. Scotty joined the ranks of the class of 1946 on 1 June 1943.
Scotty had no basic problems as a cadet but deep down always longed for the independence he had enjoyed as a Scotsman reared in the highlands of Colorado. As his roommate, Pete Grosz, recalled: “I don't believe he ever really understood how we lived by so many rules; however, he was conscientious in compliance and in helping others to comply. He often told us that he was allowed to think independently in college. The requirements for step-by-step presentations of mathematical and scientific solutions were particularly irritating to him.” Pete Grosz also remembered that the same Scottish stubbornness that caused him to question the system also gave him the perseverance to overcome the obstacles of cadet life. He recalled that Scotty enjoyed life and the people around him, and, after a struggle with the logic of a situation, he could and would laugh at himself. Another roommate, Ralph Meola, remembered that it was Scotty's determination, sense of humor and all-out effort to succeed that sustained him through his cadet days.
The high point of Scotty's cadet life was when he applied for and was accepted into Aviation Cadet Training. The independence he felt when flying reminded him of his youth in Colorado. Scotty had three roommates, and that room, plus one other three-man room in B-2 cadet company lived in the 7th Division in Central Area. The rest of the company lived in North Area. So, those two rooms felt isolated and became known as the “Gang of Seven”. Five members of this group opted for Aviation Training and insisted on attending the same Primary Flying School. One of the 7th Division Gang, John Molchan, recalled: “I don't think Brady, Texas ever recovered from the 7th Division Gang. We had some wonderful times during those 13 short weeks, and Scotty was usually in the middle of the planning and execution of our fun times. Scotty was the leader of the impromptu singing sessions that occurred after dinner and our weekend parties.”
John Molchan also recalled that during First Class year the same five air cadets and their fiancees attended social functions as a group. Scotty was always the fun-loving catalyst of this group. Graduation saw Scotty pin on the bars and wings of a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps
Five days after graduation, 9 June 1946. Scotty and Louise S. Rosasco were married in Lynbrook. Long Island, New York. Scotty, along with his fellow multi-engine Air Corps classmates, went to Enid Army Air Base, Oklahoma for B-25 indoctrination. It was during this training that John Molchan remembered, “Scotty invited a group of classmates and their wives to visit his home in Antonito, Colorado. It was a fabulous weekend that included duck hunting on the family duck ponds, fresh-caught brown trout luncheons, hiking the La Manga 10,000 foot pass between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico, and many ‘Happy Hours'” ‘From Enid, Scotty joined the 63rd Bomb Squadron of the 43 Bomb Group at Davis-Mothan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. This was one of about five B-29 Bomb Groups that later were to become the nucleus of the Strategic Air Command. In April of 1947, the McGregors had their first child, a daughter Susan, in Tucson.
A classmate, Merl Hutto, was in the 63rd Squadron with Scotty and remembered: “The social life for second lieutenants at Davis-Mothan centered around those we knew best, our classmates from West Point. Several of us who were married, including Scotty, would have parties at our various houses between trips we made with our squadrons. During this period between the fall of 1946 and the Summer of 1948, most of us went to the Air Tactical School, the Special Weapons School and out on various maneuvers. It was while at the Special Weapons School in March of 1948 that the McGregors had their second daughter, Mary. The Squadron was undergoing a change from B-29s to B-50s. My pilot was transferred out and a Captain Raines took his place. When I went to their Special
Weapons School, Scotty replaced me as the copilot in that crew. The fall of 1948 the 63rd Squadron flew to Alaska for Arctic Training. The winter that year had plenty of ice fog and adverse weather causing many flying problems. Consequently, once an aircraft got airborne, there was much to do and most of the flights were long. It was after one of these long flights that Captain Raines and Scotty made a successful landing and were parked at the edge of the runway making their post flight checks. A C-47 was taking off, went out of control and landed on top of Scotty's parked B-50. Both aircraft burned with no survivors. I received this news with great dismay as I considered that crew in its entirety as my closest flying friends.” Scotty was survived by his wife, Louise, two daughters,
Susan and Mary, his mother and brother, Sandy.
When the news of this tragic event traveled around the world where Scotty's classmates were stationed, they were stunned. What a senseless end to a career of such great potential. Scotty had so much to offer the Air Force, his country and his friends and family. Scotty is remembered by all as a truly good person. John J. Schmitt. Jr., an Air Force classmate at Davis-Monthan with Scotty, recalled how much he and EIsa enjoyed their friendship with the McGregors. John remembered that Scotty was always upbeat, always the optimist, highly respected for his professional skills. Scotty's roommate, Ralph Meola, recalled: “If you had Scotty McGregor's friendship, you had something of true value.”
Louise McGregor remembered how' much Scotty loved and enjoyed his daughters. He would tuck one under each arm and go visiting while she was in church Sunday morning. Scotty was always outgoing and friendly with an irrepressible sense of humor. Scotty was proud to be a West Pointer. Duty, Honor, Country were not hollow words to him but the framework within which he lived. Those who knew and loved Scotty McGregor remember him as someone who made their life better for his short time with them.
John Molchan provided the following epitaph for Scotty: “Scotty's death was a devastating blow to his family and to his classmates and associates in the Air Force. This fun-loving, easy-going guy was a fine friend, a superb officer, an exemplary aviator, and a loyal husband. Scotty, we consider ourselves fortunate to have known you.” To this, the Class of 1946 proudly adds: “Well Done, Scotty; Be Thou At Peace!”
'46 Memorial Article Project” and His Wife, Louise
TUSCON, Arizona, 13 November 1948 – Names of the six men killed last night at Ellison Field, Alaska, were announced by officials of Davis-Comthan Field here, their home base, today as follows: First Lieutenant Bert D. Elliot, Jr, plane commander, Huntington Beach, California; First Lieutenant John D. McGregor, co-pilot, Antonio, Colorado; First Lieutenant Robert L. Dotts, navigator, Chicago; First Lieutenant Harold L. Flowers, bombadier, Farmersburg, Indiana; Master Sergeant Bruce K. Mohler, flight engineer, Tuscon; and Technical Sergeant Lawrence S. Le Page, Bangor Maine.
MC GREGOR, JOHN D
- 1ST LT AAF USA
- DATE OF BIRTH: 02/07/1922
- DATE OF DEATH: 11/12/1948
- BURIED AT: SECTION 11 SITE 326 S.H
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard