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West Virginia Veterans Memorial


John Burk McCue

"They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

John Burk McCue was born to Anna Burk McCue and William Pearl McCue on December 16, 1919, in Morgantown, West Virginia. John McCue was the half-brother to another son born to Mr. McCue from a previous marriage that had ended with the death of his first wife. William and Anna had two other children, Robert and Richard. Richard died not long after birth.

The 1920 Federal Census taker recorded that the McCue household included Mr. and Mrs. McCue, Robert and John, a maid named Erma O'Neil, and a boarder named Frank Trump. Mr. McCue was an insurance agent. In 1930, the census taker found the family in Morgantown, but Mr. McCue's occupation had become real estate manager. The next decade was one of great change for John McCue. He was a young man who seemed anxious to prove himself in the world. He entered West Virginia University and is pictured in the WVU yearbook, the 1935 Monticola, as a member of the freshman basketball squad. "Jimmy Wolverton, Johnny McCue, and others made up the reserve strength," it said.

John McCue was pictured again in the Monticola in 1938, as a junior, and in 1939, as a senior. In the 1939 Monticola, John McCue was noted as graduating with an A.B. and for playing football and basketball. He also was a member of R O T C and an instructor. He was a member of Fi Batar Cappar. This last notation likely gives us further insight into John McCue's personality because Fi Batar Cappar was a men's mock fraternity. The members of the organization, which, at that time, was a recognized WVU organization, was known for its outrageous pranks and performances intended to drum up support for Mountaineer sports.

John Burk McCue joined the Army on August 11, 1941, as a first lieutenant. He was placed with the Army Air Services and earned the rank of captain in Panama, where he was an administrative officer, in March 1942. He was stationed in Panama until 1943, when he returned to the U. S. and received flight training in San Antonio, Sweetwater, Corsicana, Sherman, and Victoria, all in Texas. In Victoria, he was awarded his wings in October 1943. An article in the Morgantown Post, published October 5, 1943, "Wins Wings" announced the news. A record of the date of his marriage to Margaret Urdanoff was not found, but she gave birth to their daughter, Jo Carol, in January 1944. In March 1944, John McCue flew a C47 to England. (Memorial Men and Women in Service: World War II [Monongalia County, West Virginia], pp. 65-66.)

The C-47 was a Boeing product, known in the Army Air Forces as the Skytrain. According to the Boeing website,

By 1941, the old Air Corps had been transformed into the Army Air Forces, and it selected a modified version of the DC-3-the C-47 Skytrain-to become its standard transport aircraft. A reinforced fuselage floor and the addition of a large cargo door were the only major modifications. Other changes included the fitting of cargo hooks beneath the center wing section and the removal of the tail cone to mount a hook for towing gliders.

As a supply plane, the C-47 could carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo. It could also hold a fully assembled jeep or a 37 mm cannon. As a troop transport, it carried 28 soldiers in full combat gear. As a medical airlift plane, it could accommodate 14 stretcher patients and three nurses. Seven basic versions were built, and the aircraft was given at least 22 designations, including the AC-47D gunship, the EC-47 electronic reconnaissance aircraft, the EC-47Q antiaircraft systems evaluation aircraft and the C-53 Skytrooper. (C-47 Skytrain Military Transport, accessed 15 March 2020,

John McCue was placed with the 100th Squadron, 441st Troop Carrier Group, stationed in Merrifield, England. According to information posted to his memorial on, John McCue was responsible for transporting the 101st Airborne Division into France on June 5, 1944. Their mission was to "prevent German units from reaching the American landing at Utah Beach later that morning." On June 6, Captain McCue transported the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment into France. "Shortly after its stick of paratroopers jumped out at 700 feet high, McCue's plane was hit by flak." ("WW2 D-Day Fallen-John McCue, 100th Troop Carrier Squadron," Fold 3, 25 November 2019, accessed 15 March 2020,

The Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) for this incident was found on the Fold3 website. The report captures the facts of the incident. The time and date were 0133 hours on June 6, 1944. Near Carentan, Normandy, France, the plane was lost to enemy anti-aircraft fire. Nineteen people had been on board, including Capt. McCue, the pilot. The initial report said that no one reported the plane crash when it happened and it had not been witnessed, but an addendum included information from a written statement by the last paratrooper to leave the plane. The radio operator had been killed by flak; the paratrooper stated: "The plane was flying at approximately 600 feet when the order to jump was given." He saw the plane go down in flames and crash on the ground.

Capt. McCue was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and Air Medal with the following citation:

In recognition of meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flights in the European Theatre of Operation. He meritoriously climaxed a most successful program of intensive, specialized training and joint maneuvers with airborne units in aerial flights by superb performances in vital sorties flown during the initial Troop Carrier phases of the invasion of the European Continent. The magnificent spirit and enthusiasm displayed, combined with skill, courage, and devotion to duty is reflected in his brilliant operation of UNARMED and UNARMORED Troop Carrier aircraft at minimum altitudes and air speeds, in unfavorable weather conditions, over water, and into the face of vigorous enemy opposition, with no possibility of employing evasive action, to spearhead the Allied invasion of the continent and to support Air and Ground Forces in the critical period which followed. Respective duty assignments were performed in such an admirable manner as to produce exceptional results in the greatest and most successful airborne operation in the history of world aviation. (Memorial Men and Women in Service: World War II [Monongalia County, WV], pp. 65-66.)

Cross marking the grave of Capt. John McCue in the Normandy American Cemetery. <i>Find A Grave</i> photo used with permission

Cross marking the grave of Capt. John McCue in the Normandy American Cemetery. Find A Grave courtesy Mike Forgy

Capt. McCue was interred in the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. A memorial to Capt. McCue appears on the crypt stone of Anna McCue, who is entombed in the East Oak Grove Cemetery mausoleum in Morgantown.
Anna Burk McCue�s marker in the East Oak Grove Cemetery also memorializes her son Capt. John Burk McCue. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Anna Burk McCue's marker in the East Oak Grove Cemetery also memorializes her son Capt. John Burk McCue. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
March 2020


John Burk McCue

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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