1Lt. Jg. Elmo McNeill
2014 Hall of Fame Member
Member # 39
Elmo h. Mcneill, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps
Born in Sinton, Texas and graduated from Bloomington, Texas, high school, Elmo worked as a supply clerk f o r two years at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. He joined the Army Air Corps at Randolph Field, in San Antonio, as an aviation cadet. After completing flight training at Randolph on May 24, 1943, he was assigned to the B-17 flying fortress replacement unit at Houston’s Ellington Field.
In January, 1944, Elmo arrived in Haly, with the 15th Air Force. On February 4th, he flew his first mission. An attack on Italy’s Antheor Viaduct. Elmo unhappily won the distinguished flying cross on a mission to Munich. Elmo’s bomber took heavy fire from flak that knocked out two engines and caused severe damage to the plane’s control surfaces.
Elmo braced his back against the bulkhead and for leverage and used his knees on the control yoke to keep the wings level. Somehow, Elmo kept the airplane in the sky and brought it back to his base. In the landing pattern almost down, in the critical moments, the third engine failed. Elmo landed t he airplane that was so badly damaged that it was used only for parts.
Asked what happened up there, Elmo replied, “i don’t know what happened. The communications were all shot out.” He tried to get the ailing fort back home because, he said, “It would have been a long walk home.” On August 22, 1944, Elmo reached 50 missions when his unit attacked the oil refineries at Odertal, Germany. In addition to the distinguished flying cross, Elmo earned three air medals with seven oak leaf clusters, a campaign medal with two bronze service stars and a distinguished unit citation badge.
After he was released from military service in 1945, Elmo entered the federal civil service at Houston’s Hobby Airport as an air traffic controller Elmo worked his way up and in 1960, he was selected as the first air traffic manager at the newly built Corpus Christi International Airport. He held that position for seventeen years until his retirement in 1976.
Elmo McNeil passed away in February, 2010, two weeks before his 90th birthday.