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Guy L. McNeil, Jr.

9 July 1931 - 30 December 1951

Died: Air crash 60 miles NE of Phoenix, AZ

Interred: National Cemetery, Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Guy Lewis McNeil was born in Birmingham, AL, on 9 Jul 1931, the son  of COL Guy Lewis McNeil and the late Claire M. McNeil. He entered the Academy with a Presidential appointment. As the son of an Air Force officer, Guy lived at various bases in this country and abroad. He attended primary schools in Japan and graduated from the Tokyo American School in Tokyo, Japan.


Assigned to Company I-2, Guy felt that he was the shortest cadet in the company, although it was probably by no more than a quarter of an inch or so. He gravitated towards H-2, in the “Lost Fifties,” where he would be among the tallest. Few could tell the difference, and after Plebe year he stopped being

concerned about that. During his short career at the Academy, he was a member of the Water Polo Club and participated in intramural swimming. In December 1951, he looked forward to his first Christmas leave at home since entering the Academy.


His father, COL McNeil, was Inspector General for the Fourth Air Force and stationed at Hamilton Air Force Base, CA. He had arranged for a C-47 training flight from Stewart Field to Hamilton for Christmas leave in 1951 and actually served as  pilot on the uneventful westbound fight. There were 24 cadets, including his son, Guy, Jr., on board. The return flight, piloted by MAJ Lester Carlson, departed from Hamilton AFB on the morning of 30 December with 28 on board, of which 19 were cadets. Some of the original cadets missed the flight or had made other plans for their return to West Point.




As a result of bad weather and navigation instrument problems, the plane was off course as it approached Williams Air Force Base, AZ, for a refueling stop. Tragically, it hit the side of Armer Mountain, northeast of Phoenix, at 6500 feet. There were no survivors.




On 5 Jan 1952, the Superintendent, MG Frederick Irving, issued General Order Number 9, which stated:


It is the sad duty of the Superintendent to announce the death of Cadet Guy Lewis McNeil, Jr., a member of the Class of 1954, United States Corps of Cadets, whose death occurred in an aircraft accident in the State of Arizona on 30 Dec 1951.


Throughout his cadetship at West Point, CADET MCNEIL was a most popular and highly regarded member of his class. He at all times justified his appointment to the United States Military Academy and was in all respects a credit to the Corps of Cadets.


The Superintendent, personally and in behalf of the Corps of Cadets, the Officers and Enlisted Men of the United States

Military Academy, desires to convey to the bereaved parent and relatives of CADET MCNEIL, the sincere condolences of all at West Point who knew this splendid young gentleman. His regrettable and unfortunate demise is a very definite loss to this institution and to the United States Army.


A Solemn Mass of Requiem for Guy was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, and he was interred in the National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco.


His grave overlooks San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Years later, in 1974, his father, COL McNeil, and his second wife, Marie McNeil, were buried in the same gravesite,

sharing a common gravestone.


—Company I-2



At 1528, MAJ Lester G. Carlson reported that he was descending to 8,000 feet but could not receive the Perryville fan marker signal due to receiver problems. In reality, he was well beyond that fan marker. Nonetheless, he was instructed to descend to 6,000 feet to the Phoenix Range Station. Carlson’s last contact was at 1534, when he reported descending through 7,000 feet. Four minutes later, AF 6266 slammed into the side of Armer Mountain at 6,500 feet, approximately 50 miles northeast of Williams AFB. Searchers did not find the wreck until two days after the crash.


Excerpt reprinted from Tragedy at Armer Mountain: The Crash of AF 6266, by Virginia A. McConnell, TAPS, January/February 2005


Originally published in TAPS, FALL/WINTER 2009

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