John Mack Simmons Jr.

John Simmons

USAAF   Major

Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal x13


Born 3 September 1921
Son of Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Simmons of Gadsden, Alabama
Joined the Army Reserve in June 1942
Entered service 9 January 1943 & winged 3 November '43

Served with 317FS, 325FG in the Mediterranean

Killed in a Flying Accident 18 January 1961, near Elgin AFB





To Pilot Fighters

4 Nov. 1943 - Aviation Cadet John Mack Simmons has graduated from basic training school at Shaw Field, Sumter, S. C., and has entered advanced training as pilot of single engine fighter planes. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Simmons of Centre Road, a graduate of Gaston High School and Snead Junior College. He was a popular member of the football teams of each school. He entered service Jan. 9 this year.

Etowah Pilot Goes To Meet Germans

(Early 1944) Lt. John Mack Simmons, who completed a special course as pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt at Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, and Perry Air Field, Perry, Fla., has arrived in the African theater.
Lt. Simmons enlisted in the Air Corps Reserves in June 1942. He was called to begin his training in January 1943 and began his preflight at Maxwell Field and took his later training at Camden and Sumter, S. C. He received his silver wings and commission at Moultrie, Ga., in November 1943.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Simmons, Centre Road, Gadsden, Lt. Simmons is a graduate of Snead Junior College.


Lt. Simmons Flies 50 Combat Sorties

July 1944 - FIFTEENTH AAF IN ITALY - First Lieutenant John M. Simmons, 22, Centre Road, Gadsden, Ala., a Fifteenth AAF P-51 Mustang fighter pilot, passed the half- century mark of combat flying against the enemy when he flew his 50th combat mission on Aug. 17. His 50th was flown when he participated in a fighter escort of heavy bombers attacking oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.
Lieutenant Simmons started combat flying in the Mediterranean theatre of war on April 15 of this year. His first mission was flown to Bucharest, Romania, as a pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt. Since that date he has flown P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs over Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania.
He has destroyed 4 enemy planes in aerial combat. His first victory was scored on June 23 while escorting heavy bombers to Ploesti. On June 28 he shot down a German Messerschmitt -109 fighter plane near Bucharest, and on Aug. 3 he destroyed another ME - 109 over Friedrichshafen, Germany. Four days later, on Aug. 7, he scored his fourth victory, this time over a Junkers-88, near the Blechhammer oil refineries in Germany. He was a member of the first group of fighter pilots to participate in the historic first Italy to Russia shuttle mission in June, and also participated in strafing and escort missions over the invasion coast of southern France.
Lieutenant Simmons has served in the army air forces since June 1942. He was awarded his pilot’s wings and commission as a second lieutenant on Nov. 3, 1943, after completing the advanced training course at Spence Field, Ga. He was promoted to the grade of first lieutenant in July of this year. He has been on overseas duty for six months.


Gadsden Airman Downs 6 Planes

Sept. 1944 - FIFTEENTH AAF IN ITALY - First Lt. John M. Simmons, 22, Centre Road, Gadsden, a P-51 (Mustang) fighter pilot, destroyed his fifth and sixth enemy plane in aerial combat on Aug. 23 while flying on an escort of 15th AAF heavy bombers to Markersdorf, Austria.
“I saw about 15-Focke-Wulf fighter planes attacked the last formation of bombers,” he related. “I chased one in a dive and started firing at 1,000 feet. His canopy flew off, pieces fell from his plane, and it crashed.
“I was rejoining my squadron when I saw an FW-190 underneath some clouds. I fired one burst and his plane started to burn. I pulled over him, and when I glanced back I saw he had crashed into a mountain.”
Lt. Simmons has been flying combat in the Mediterranean theatre since April of this year. He has flown over 50 missions and 230 hours of combat flying. He scored his first victory in aerial combat on June 23 near Ploesti, Romania. On June 28 he shot down a Messerschmitt-109 fighter plane over Bucharest, and one on August 3 near Friedrichshafen, Germany. On August 7 he destroyed a German Junkers- 88 while on a mission escorting bombers to the Blechammar oil refineries in Germany.
Entering the army air forces in June 1942, he was commissioned and awarded his pilot’s wings at Spence Field, Ga., in November 1943. He has been on overseas duty for six months.
He is a graduate of the Gaston High School, Gadsden, and attended Snead Junior College, Boaz, Ala., for two years. Prior to entering the service he was employed by the Truscon Steel Co. in Gadsden.



Victories Include :

23 June 1944
28 June 1944
3 Aug 1944
7 Aug 1944
23 Aug 1944
15 Sep 1944
one FW190
one Me109
one Me109
one Ju88
two FW190s
one Ju52

7 / 0 / 0


Maj. Simmons Believed Dead

Mr. and Mrs. John M. Simmons, 1106 Ewing Avenue, have been notified by the Air Force that their son, Maj. John Mack Simmons, Jr., is presumed dead after his plane crashed Jan. 18.
Memorial service arrangements are awaiting additional information.
Maj. Simmons was married to the former Elaine Tarpley of Gadsden.
Others besides his wife and parents surviving Maj. Simmons are four children, Susan, Jeannie, John M. Simmons III, and Scott, all of Eglin Field, Fla.
Maj. Simmons was practicing radar landings at Eglin Air Force Base when his plane disappeared.
Only small bits of the aircraft and a log book were found. He was piloting a T33 trainer.


World War II Ace Believed Dead In Plane Crash

GADSDEN, Ala., Jan. 21 — A World War II ace whose T-33 jet trainer went down near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Wednesday night, is presumed to be dead.
Relatives of Maj. John M. Simmons, 39, of Gadsden, were notified Friday night by Air Force authorities that the search will continue, but there is little hope he survived.
Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Eglin, where he was stationed.
Plans for services Monday in Gadsden are incomplete.
A veteran pilot credited with seven kills during the war, Maj. Simmons was last heard from when his plane lost contact with the Eglin tower as it was preparing to land.

VOLUNTEERS in fishing and ski boats were organized by the Air Force to search Choctawhatchee Bay, where a portion of the wreckage was spotted Thursday.
Simmons, the father of four children, was completing a flight from McCoy AFB, Orlando, Fla.
Recently he appeared on an educational Television program in Birmingham.
Surviving are his wife, Elaine Simmons; four children, Susan, 11; Jean, 8; John, 6, and Scott, 7 months; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Simmons Sr. of Gadsden, and three sisters, Mrs. Kenneth Hook of Birmingham, Mrs. Mack J. Howard of Fort Payne and Mrs. Wayne L. Kerns of Gadsden.



Missing - This is a recent picture of Maj. John M. Simmons Jr. of Gadsden, who is missing and presumed dead in Choctawhatchee Bay near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Simmons lost contact with the Eglin control tower shortly before he was to land. Memorial services will be held at Eglin Sunday.

Service Set For Missing Eglin Pilot

A memorial service for Major John M. Simmons II, who has been missing since Wednesday night when his T-33 jet trainer crashed in Choctawhatchee Bay, will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. in Chapel No. 3, Eglin Air Force Base.
Although traces of the plane have been found, the cause of the accident is still undetermined.
Major Simmons, a native of Gadsden, Ala., is survived by his widow and four children, Susan, 10: Jane, 7: John III, 6; and Scott, 8 months; and also by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Simmons of Gadsden


Search Continues For Pilot's Body

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jan. 23 UP) — Divers again today were unsuccessful in their search for the body of a decorated Alabama flier in Choctawhatchee Bay near Eglin.
The hunt was concentrated in an area of the bay where new wreckage was found late yesterday. Officers said, however, it could not be determined if the debris was from a T-33 jet trainer missing since Wednesday night.
The jet was piloted by Maj. John M. Simmons, 39, Gadsden, World War II ace and a top Eglin test pilot.


Body Of Simmons Is Found In Bay

(Jan. 26,1961 THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS) Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (UPI) — The body of Maj. John M. Simmons of Gadsden, Ala., was found in Choctawhatchee Bay Tuesday near the spot where his T33 jet training plane crashed January 18.
Simmons, 39, a test pilot at the Eglin Air Force Base proving ground, crashed on a flight from McCoy AFB, near Orlando, to Eglin. Discovery of his body ended a continuous two-week search by Air Force, Navy and volunteer divers.
Funeral services will be announced by Collier-Butler Funeral Home.


John Mack Simmons Jr.


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Thanks go out to

John Simmons III for the photos & infos !

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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