Paul Truman McClellan, Jr

United States Air Force
07 July 1931 - 14 November 1965
West Stayton, Oregon
Panel 03E Line 050

13TH AF A-1 Skyraider 1ST ACS
USAF Senior Pilot

DFC, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Paul Truman McClellan, Jr

08 Nov 2002

You have become part of our family in our hearts.
Your daughter Suzanne is our sister in law.


From his daughter's brother- and sister-in-laws,
SMSgt Eugene L Mago
USAF (Ret) and Lee

14 Nov 2005


14 November - On your 40th anniversary,
"ALOHA" Captain McClellan


SMSgt Eugene L. Mago USAF (Ret)
834th Air Division '69 - 70

"I salute you, my brother"

His daughter Suzanne is our sister-in-law,
Gene and Lee Mago

22 Feb 2003


by his son
Paul J. McClellan
30 Jul 2007

I was in the battle at LZ X-RAY, November 14-16, 1965 as a machine gunner with the 7th Cavalry. While laying prone on the ground and firing at the advancing NVA I was observing the A-1E Skyraider making his bombing runs in front of my position (between the Chu Pong Mountain and me). I have documented this in the book "We Were Soldiers".

I was 'keying' off of him as I knew that he had a better view of the enemy than I had as to where they were coming from. The pilot made several bombing runs also firing his machine guns at very low levels. On his last run he was hit by enemy fire and his fuel tank exploded and caught fire. Just above the tree top he passed by me, his plane trailing smoke and flame. I was less than 50 yards from him and saw his face looking at the LZ and in my direction. He was alive and moving at that time. He disappeared over the trees and out of my sight. He killed many of the enemy and may have saved our battalion. I am extremely grateful for his actions and feel he deserves the MOH for his heroics and sacrifice.

From a US soldier,
Bill Beck
231 St. Johns Drive, Camp Hill, Pa

12 Aug 2007

On 14 November 1965 I was overflying Landing Zone XRay in the command Huey of Colonel Tim Brown, 3rd Brigade commander, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), hoping he could land there so I could bail out and join the troops. The smoke was rising above 3,000 feet from air, artillery and small arms fire all around the perimeter of the LZ. Our chopper was circling overhead. Lt. Col. Hal Moore, commander 1/7 Cavalry on the ground, was waving off his commander Col. Brown: The LZ was too hot. If we landed that Huey with all the antennas the bird would be shot to pieces.

Suddenly beneath us flashed an A1-E Skyraider fighter plane, streaming a long plume of smoke and fire. He was no higher than 750 to 1,000 feet above the ground. I was monitoring the radios through the headset I was wearing. Someone was yelling into the radio: "Anyone see a chute? Anyone see a chute?" I watched carefully as the Skyraider arced lower and then impacted in the jungle perhaps a mile distant from LZ XRay. I keyed the mike: "NO CHUTE! NO CHUTE! He went in with the aircraft...."

Capt. Paul T. McClellan flew that Skyraider and went down with it. He rests there in the jungle, near XRay, to this day, an honored and well remembered comrade who gave everything he had for the troops surrounded on the ground below.

Sleep well, good and faithful soldier!
Joe Galloway

Joseph L. Galloway

11 Nov 2007

I never had the chance to meet you but I understand you had a duty to our country. I pray you died at peace and you were and always will be loved and missed.

Keith McClellan

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Paul T. McClellan
died in the fighting in the
Ia Drang Valley
November 1965.

Visit the
Landing Zone X-Ray site

and The Virtual Wall's
Ia Drang Memorial

On the morning of 14 Nov 1965 four companies of the 1st Bn, 7th Cav, were airlifted into Landing Zone X-RAY in the Ia Drang Valley, where they immediately were engaged by a very superior North Vietnamese Army force. Heavy fighting ensued, and Air Force aircraft based at Pleiku were called in for air support. At about 3 pm Captain Paul T. McClellan's A-1E was hit by enemy fire as he was making a low-level firing pass over the Landing Zone. His Skyraider, trailing smoke and flames, crashed two kilometers northeast of the landing zone, killing McClellan. When enemy soldiers tried to reach the wreckage, U.S. gunships destroyed them - and the aircraft - with rocket fire.

Captain McClellan's remains were not recovered.

The A-1 Skyraider was developed by the Navy during World War II but didn't enter fleet service until after the war ended. It served very well as a ground attack aircraft in Korea and had a well-earned reputation as a sturdy, reliable aircraft capable of carrying a wide range of ordnance and was still in Navy service in the 1960s. As Vietnam heated up the Air Force recognized the value of the "Spad" and obtained a number of aircraft from the Navy. USAF A-1 training was conducted at Hurlburt Field, part of the Eglin AFB complex in the Florida panhandle. The photo below is of class "Express 12":

Back row: Capt John V. Duell; Maj John P. O'Gorman; Capt Donny D. Clemens; unknown; Capt John R. Gearhart; Maj Wallace A. Ford. Front row: Capt Oliver C. Chase; unknown; Capt Paul T. McClellan; Capt J.B. Ledbetter; unknown. Not pictured: Capt R. V. Arbuckle; Capt Don R. Hood; and Capt William H. Kyle.

Four men from Express 12 died in Vietnam:

  • Capt Oliver C. Chase, 1st ACS, A-1E 52-131414, Binh Dinh Province, 22 Jul 1965
  • Capt Don R. Hood, 602nd Ftr Sqdn, A-1E 52-132593, Binh Dinh Province, 02 Oct 1965
  • Capt Paul T. McClellan, 1st ACS, A-1E 52-132898, Pleiku Province, 14 Nov 1965
  • LtCol Wallace A. Ford, 606th ACS, A-1H 52-137620, Quang Tri Province, 24 May 1968
Perhaps oddly, more Air Force than Navy pilots died flying the Skyraider in Vietnam; as the Air Force increased its inventory of A-1s the Navy phased the aircraft out of service - it was judged not survivable in the much higher threat area of North Vietnam where the Navy was flying.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 8 Nov 2002
Last updated 08/10/2009