Commander John Patrick McNeela, 95, longtime Navy pilot

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Cmd. John Patrick McNeela

Cmd. John Patrick McNeela

Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. John Patrick McNeela, 95, passed away peacefully on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 at a local hospital.

John served with Squadron VC-91 flying TBF Avengers in the Pacific during World War II. The squadron transferred from the USS Kitkum Bay to the USS Makin Island after Kitkum Bay was kamikazed in the Surigao Straits. John flew many missions in the Pacific Theater supporting the U.S. Marines, including the battle for Okinawa. After one particular mission, his plane was so badly damaged by ground fire it was jettisoned over the side after he managed to trap successfully. McNeela also flew many FAC missions during the Korean War. After a long and distinguished Naval career, John taught math in Norfolk Public Schools for 10 years.

John attended Holy Name Catholic School in Cleveland. He joined the Navy flight program shortly after the outbreak of the war. When the war ended, the Navy gave him a regular commission and ordered him to Columbia University to pursue a degree in mathematics. His studies at Columbia were interrupted by the Korean War. John later received a B.A. from Old Dominion University.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of the late Nora Fergus McNeela and Patrick John McNeela. He was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis Botta McNeela.

Left to cherish his memory are: his two daughters, Star Wilson (Frederick Guy) of Norfolk, and Karen Martin (David) of Massachusetts; two sons, Rico B. McNeela of Missouri and Patrick J. McNeela (Sally) of Connecticut; grandchildren, Philip, David, Paige, Frederick Guy IV, Sara (Nicholas), Patrick (Rebekah), Julie, Catherine and Annie; and great-grandchildren, Ethan Asher and Madison Anne.

The family will receive friends at a visitation at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments in Norfolk on Monday, Sept. 12th between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Sept. 13th at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, with Rev. Joseph Metzger officiating. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Cemetery with military honors. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Holy Name Catholic School, 6000 Queens Highway, Parma Hts., Ohio 44130. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, Norfolk Chapel is handling arrangements.

Online condolences may be made at www.hdoliver.com.

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