E.R. McLean, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Web)
E.R. McLean landed once at Tucson, Monday, August 19, 1929. He flew an unidentified Boeing F2B. Based at San Diego, CA aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga, he arrived amidst nineteen other naval aviators, each signed into the Register on the middle third of page 112. Other than the first six who signed their own names, the rest were entered by an unknown hand all at once. Please direct your browser to the link and review page 112. There you'll see that signers Chourre through Wick comprise the group of twenty. They all remained overnight at Tucson, departing the morning of the 20th for El Paso, TX.
Photograph, right, is from the link, which also cites some of his military record and achievements, and exhibits additional photos. A video at the link suggests that he flew with the "Nine High Hats," the "first" Navy aerobatics team that comprised part of the fleet that accompanied him through Tucson. The photograph of the team at the link does not include McLean, and the High Hats were not the first Navy aerobatics team. They were preceded by the Three Sea Hawks in 1928.
E.R. McLean U.S.N.A. Graduation Yearbook, 1924 (Source: Woodling)
Regardless, what were twenty Navy pilots doing at Tucson all at once? They were on a grand cross-country flight headed from San Diego to Cleveland, OH and back to participate in the National Air Races (NAR) held August 24th-September 2nd at Cleveland that year. Lt. Cdr. Homer Wick was commanding officer of Squadron No. 1 based on the Saratoga.
Wick brought his entire squadron through Tucson on behalf of the NAR. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Navy ordered numerous activities by its personnel, ships and airplanes to build confidence in the naval force among the U.S. citizenry, to provide real-life training for personnel, as well as to encourage recruitment.
McLean's job in the group was to participate in event No. 21 of the NAR, the Navy Pursuit Race. It took place on August 30th and covered 100 miles in ten, 10-mile laps. According to the Aircraft Yearbook for 1930, sixteen navy pilots competed. McLean was maintaining a speed faster than the first place winner, but was disqualified because of fouled pylons. Please direct your browser to Wick's page to see a tabulation and identification of all the men in his squadron.
McLean graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1924. His graduation photograph and yearbook entry are shown at left illustrating some of the campus argot of the day..
The New York Times of June 8, 1924 ("Annapolis Men Assigned to Duty") cites Midshipman McLean's appointment to his first sea duty on the U.S.S. Rochester. Other than his participation with the NAR five years later, the following summarizes his duties during the 1930s.
1927 Naval Air Station, Pensacola (instruction)
1928-29 V.T. Squadron 2B, aircraft squadrons, U.S.S. Saratoga
1930 Naval Air Station, Hampton Roads
1931 Naval Air Station Pensacola
1932-34 U.S.S. Cincinnati
1935 Naval Reserve Educational Center, New Orleans
1936 U.S.S. McCormick
1937 Duty connection U.S.S. Mugford (ordnance)
1938 U.S.S. Mugford
1939 Naval War College, Newport (instruction; ordnance)
1940 Naval Academy
McLean participated in WWII and the Korean conflict. At the rank of Commander during WWII, his fame accrued from the rescue of crew members from a torpedoed destroyer near the Solomon Islands, July 4-5, 1943. The damaged ship was listing badly when, under continuous enemy fire, McLean rammed the bow of his destroyer, the U.S.S. Chevalier, into its side to keep it upright, thus allowing its crew to escape to his ship. He earned the Navy Cross for his efforts. Later, he was commanding officer of Destroyer Division 98 and then commander of Destroyer Squadron 49 and Division 97.
In 1949, then Captain McLean commanded the U.S.S. Columbus. The Columbus cruised as flagship of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, from September 13, 1948 to December 15, 1949.
His was essentially on a voyage of diplomacy. He hosted the King of England and various Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dignitaries. He appears to have perfomed his job well, as, "... no official protests were filed with the State Department...." The New York Times of December 10, 1949, below, reported McLean's impressions as a, "striped-pants warrior," and The Columbus' return to the east coast of the U.S. as follows.
The New York TImes, December 10, 1949 (Source: NYT)
McLean was born October 2, 1903. He retired from the Navy in 1959 as a Vice Admiral. He died November 22, 1985. His obituary, below, is from the Philadelphia (PA) Enquirer of November 23, 1985.
E.R. McLean Obituary, Philadelphia (PA) Enquirer, November 23, 1985 (Source: Woodling)
EPHRAIM R. MCLEAN JR., 82, RETIRED VICE ADMIRAL
Ephraim R. McLean Jr., 82, a retired Navy vice admiral who saw extensive combat in the Pacific in World War II and later settled into a quieter life as a Philadelphia businessman, died yesterday at his home in the city's Germantown section.
Mr. McLean's Navy career began when he entered the Naval Academy in 1920 and ended with his retirement in 1959 after three years as commandant of the Fourth Naval District in Philadelphia.
In between, his assignments included those of a fighter pilot, a member of a Naval aerobatic flying squadron, a destroyer commander, a heavy cruiser commander, a military strategist and an instructor at the Naval Academy.
In World War II, Mr. McLean fought in the Pacific and participated in nine major campaigns and 15 engagements with Japanese forces.
From 1942 to 1945, he commanded first a single destroyer, then a destroyer division and finally two separate destroyer squadrons. He received the Navy's highest medal, the Navy Cross, as well as the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and other medals.
One citation praised him: "For extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of the USS Chevalier in action against enemy forces in the Solomon Islands June 4 and 5, 1943. When one of the ships of the task force was torpedoed . . . he placed the Chevalier alongside the sinking vessel and skillfully directed the extremely hazardous rescue operations . . . although his ship was subjected to intense fire."
After his retirement from the Navy, Mr. McLean, a native of Mississippi who became a resident of Chestnut Hill, Wyndmoor and Germantown, worked in the brokerage business, the aviation business and the construction business.
He was a vice president and director of Piasecki Aircraft Corp., an assistant to the president of the construction firm of John McShain Co. and a member of the brokerage firms of Bache & Co. and Reynolds & Co. He retired from business in 1967.
Mr. McLean was active in civic and social affairs. In past years, he was a fund-raiser for the United Way, a member of the board of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, a director of the Houston Foundation and a member of the ROTC Council of Princeton University.
He was a member of the Racquet Club, the Vesper Club, the Pennsylvania Society, the Union League, the Philadelphia Cricket Club and many other clubs and organizations.
Mr. McLean is survived by his wife, Janet Burns McLean; sons, Ephraim R. 3d, Edward B. and Michael A.; daughters, Arleen Hesse and Louise Englund; 12 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Fort Myer Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., where Mr. McLean will be buried.
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