combat pilot, World War II and Korean conflict Commander—and
model airplane buff— John Steele is a Command
Pilot with 6000+ flight hours.
first prize in a model airplane contest in 1938 launched
Colonel Steele's flying career. The prize was a pilot training
course in a J-2 Cub at McCormick Field, Staten Island,
NY. Eventually, he earned his private pilot license.
entered the Army Air Force In April 1941as a Flying
Cadet. After completing Primary flight training
at Jackson, MS (Stearman PT-17), Basic at Gunter
Field, AL (Vultee Valiant BT-13), and Advanced
at Barksdale Field, LA (Beechcraft AT-7, Cessna
AT-8, Martin B-10, Douglas B-18, Lockheed A-28),
he received his pilot wings and, on his 21st birthday—December 7,1941— was
commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
While serving as a B-24 Instructor Pilot at
Davis Monthan AB, AZ in 1942, he was named Commander
of the 716th Bombardment Squadron and was soon deployed
to the 15th Air Force in Italy. He flew 50 combat missions over
Germany, Austria, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Poland
and Hungary including six missions to the Ploesti oil refineries—one
of the most heavily defended targets of World War II.
Colonel Steele completed the Command and General
Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS in 1945. He joined the New
York Air National Guard the following year and was appointed Commander
of the 106th Bomb Group (B-26) at Floyd Bennett Field, NY. During
the Korean conflict, he was Deputy Commander of the 106th Bomb
Wing (B-29) at March AFB, CA. He later transferred to the Fifth
Air Force at Yokota AB, Japan, where he was Commander of an Air
Refueling squadron (KB-29 and KB-50) which pioneered the Probe
and Drogue refueling system, now used by all services.
Colonel Steele retired in 1961; he is a Command
Pilot with more than 6000 flying hours. He then joined the Federal
Aviation Administration as an Air Carrier Operations Inspector
and Airman Certification Specialist. He joined Pan American World
Airways in 1966 as a Flight Instructor and check pilot. He retired
from Pan Am in 1981 as a Boeing 747 Check Captain with 26,000 flying
hours. Presently, he is a consultant for the Pan American International
Flight Academy in Miami, FL, which trains Boeing 747 pilots and
flight engineers of U. S. and foreign airlines and military forces.
Awards & Decorations
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
- Distinguished Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Korean Service Medal