Kevin Joseph McManus – Lieuenant Colonel, United States Air Force

Kevin McManus, 65; Vietnam War POW

Courtesy of the Washington Post

Kevin McManus, 65, an Air Force pilot shot down over North Vietnam who spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war and later retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, died of lung cancer July 31, 2008, at his home in Oakton, Virginia.

Two weeks before he was scheduled to leave Vietnam, and two months after a four-day honeymoon with his childhood sweetheart, then-Captain McManus was shot down northeast of Hanoi on June 14, 1967. He and his co-pilot, Edward J. Mechenbier, parachuted to earth and were immediately captured, bound and marched as war criminals through villages leading to a Hanoi prison complex.

They remained in captivity for five years and eight months. Both were released in February 1973.

On his way home, Captain McManus told reporters at Clark Air Base in the Philippines that he had no qualms about leaving Vietnam and returning to freedom. “I've talked to my wife and she hasn't changed, and that's what really counts,” he said. He also said they “decided to have 16 kids — after that it didn't matter.”

They eventually had seven.



Pilot Kevin McManus was reunited with his wife in 1973 after nearly six years as a prisoner in Vietnam.

Born in New York and raised in Babylon, New York, Kevin Joseph McManus graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1964 with three bachelor's degrees. He had pilot training at Vance Air Force Base and began flying F-4s with the 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bentwaters, England.

In November 1966, he was sent to Danang Air Base to join the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron. On a five-day furlough to Honolulu in March, he married an elementary school classmate, honeymooned for the rest of his break, then returned to Vietnam.

He was in the second large group released during a cease-fire in 1973, and photos of him and fellow military men filled the nation's newspapers. At the time, he expressed a wish to become an Air Force Academy flight instructor, but he learned during an extended stay at the Andrews Air Force Base hospital that his injuries prevented him from resuming his pilot's duties. He spent the next 18 months at Duke University, where he received a master's degree in business administration in 1975.

Subsequent Air Force duties took him to Setauket, New York, and in 1979 to Herndon, where he worked at the Pentagon on the Air Staff and as director of mission-critical computer resources in the research and development office of the Defense Department.

He retired from the military in 1984 and joined Robbins-Gioia, an Alexandria-based program management firm. For the next 10 years, he was its chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He then moved to AT&T to manage a billion-dollar defense contract. He retired in 1999 and consulted on high-risk, high-dollar acquisitions.

He appeared in a controversial 2004 Sinclair Broadcast Group program that criticized Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, “A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media,” which included portions of another film, “Stolen Honor.”

“John Kerry is probably the first man in 200 years of American history to make Benedict Arnold look good,” Colonel McManus said in the film. Kerry, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran, had attracted controversy for his 1971 Senate testimony charging U.S. atrocities in the war.

Colonel McManus enjoyed reading, carpentry, gardening, and collecting stamps and baseball cards. He had a passion for Italy.

His military decorations included two awards of the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with a Valor Device, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and the Defense Superior Service Medal.

A son, Kevin Roderic “Rory” McManus, died in 1999.

Survivors include his wife of 41 years, Mary Jane McManus of Arlington County; six children, Katherine Mary McManus of Arlington, Bryan Jude McManus and Marie Therese McManus, both of Fairfax, John Francis McManus and Mary Elizabeth Seton McManus of Oakton and Margaret Mary McManus of Eagle, Colorado; a sister, Karen Julia McManus of Alexandria; and two brothers, Robert Philip McManus of Massapequa, New York, and Christopher George McManus of Washington.

Kevin Joseph McManus died on July 31, 2008, the beloved husband of Mary Jane McManus; loving father of Katherine Mary McManus, Bryan Jude McManus, Marie Therese McManus, John Francis McManus, Mary Elizabeth Seton McManus, and Margaret Mary McManus; dear brother of Karen Julia McManus, Robert Philip McManus and Christopher George McManus.

Mass of Christian Burial Tuesday, August 12, 10:30 a.m. in St. Timothy Catholic Church, 13807 Poplar Tree Rd., Chantilly, Virginia 20151. Interment Thursday, October 16, 11 a.m. Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers,memorial contributions may be made to Capital Hospice, 6565 Arlington Blvd., Suite 500, Falls Church, Virginia 22042; the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, Box 95000-1655, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19195-1655; The National League of Families of American Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia, 1005 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 170, Arlington, Virginia 22201 or any reputable organization established to benefit US Military Veterans of the War on Terror.


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment