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John Ryan


John Ryan McCulloch

"I cannot say too much in praise of Jack. He was so popular and such a fine officer...I shall miss him dearly myself as will hi[s] comrades..."

A.C. Brown, Wing Commander, No. 407 Squadron

Pilot Officer John Ryan (Jack) McCulloch of the Royal Canadian Air Force was one of many Americans who believed in the importance of trying to prevent the Nazi regime from overtaking Europe. The United States would not enter World War II until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; however, by that date, Jack had already become a Pilot Officer with the Canadians in the 407th Squadron.

Jack was born in Point Pleasant, Mason County, WV on July 13, 1914, the son of Alexander and Julia M. McCulloch and brother of Alex McCulloch. He attended Point Pleasant schools, went to Marshall College (now Marshall University) from 1931 to 1933 and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1935 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He became interested in flying at the university, where he earned his wings as well as obtained two years of instruction in flying. Leaving the university, he spent six months in the West Indies, where the American Tourist Board employed him. Returning to Boston, he entered the Raymond Whitcomb Tours organization as a member of the staff, which conducted tours through the Panama Canal, down the west coast of South America returning to the east coast via Cape Horn. He then entered the Naval Air Training School at Pensacola, FL and was employed by American Airlines before going to Canada in June of 1940 to instruct fledgling fliers.

He later joined the 407th squadron of the RCAF(RCAF Honor List), Royal Canadian Air Force, and was commissioned a pilot officer by King George VI. The RCAF sent him to Prince Edward Island for advanced navigation training and then to England as an attachment of the RAF, Royal Air Force, in the latter part of June 1941 for long distance reconnaissance flights over the English Channel. Americans in the
Canadian Air Force
Americans in the
Canadian Air Force

During his time in England, Jack did not just think about business but was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing where his family came from. During his Christmas break, Jack visited the ruins of the McCulloch's castle, Cardoness Castle, in Scotland and met some of his Scottish relatives, Sir Andrew McCulloch and his family. He also kept his family back home in his heart by writing to his mother and younger brother often.

In a report from his superior officer, it was learned that he took off with his crew at 4:30AM on February 8, 1942 on a patrol along the enemy coastline in a search for enemy shipping. Four other aircraft took off at the same time, but McCulloch's plane, "T for Tommy," did not return. Because of the necessity of radio silence, no signals were received from his aircraft. Six months later, the RCAF reported to Julia McCulloch that her son, John Ryan McCulloch, was for all purposes presumed dead. The RCAF posthumously awarded John Ryan McCulloch the Operational Wings for his "gallant service against the enemy" even before his own country was at war.


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