Wednesday, June 25, 2008

James Bishop

Jon, I was deeply saddened by the news of your fathers passing. Mac was a online friend of mine going back sometime to early in 1995 . I am a Navy veteran Aviation Ordnanceman and can appreciate Mac's accomplishments as a Naval Aviator. I never had the honor to meet him personally but did get to talk to him on the phone . We shared emails and I sent him stuff about Aviation Ordnance and Navy events that I figured he'd be interested in & he sent me news when he got it too. I once asked him about his younger days in Georgia. I believe that was one of the best letters I ever got back from him. He had some wonderful stories I am sure I need not tell you as you must've heard a few of them. I must confess I love a good story andI enjoyed him telling me about his family and some of his adventures as a young man...I was very sick around christmas found out I was diabetic and in the hospital a real down time for me & forgot him a Christmas Email but Mac didn't forget me I have a picture Mac sent me he said that " was another pilots plane but he flew it of the Ship I will miss Mac and his emails .

My Thoughts & Prayers to you,

Richmond, Virginia

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Walt Blaseck

In the fall of 1953, I checked into VF-12 as a brand new Ensign, fresh out of flight and Jet School. Your Father was the Skipper and a fine Skipper he was. We were flying "Banshees" and it was a great Bird.

A few months later, we cruised down to "Gitmo" for Aerial gunnery where three other guys
and myself were ComAirLant gunnery champs.Mac was extremely proud of us for that feat.
A short time later, he completed his tour and was transferred out. He was a quiet man who led the squadron by example and intelligence. I for one, was sad to see him go. Through the years we kept in touch and were able to see each other at our Squadron reunion
in San Diego.

During all those years, I never knew he was an "Ace" in WW2 until just a few years ago!
I asked him why he never mentioned it and he replied "I had so many Buddies and friends
killed flying next to me in combat, I preferred not to bring back those memories by talking
about it". Very few men would keep quiet about such an accomplishment!

I'm sure he's on tha big "Carrier in the Sky" lookin down at us, with that big smile and a
twinkle in his eye!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jay Stout

I first met Mac at the "Wings over Gillespie" air show in 1998. Eric Hammel,
the great World War II historian, was also there and suggested that I ask Mac
if he'd like to get together to write his story. Well, I put my pitch
together and talked for about five minutes straight. Mac just replied in
typical, understated, no-words-wasted Mac fashion: "Sure."

That was the start of a wonderful working relationship. I spent a lot of
great weekend afternoons with Mac. They were made that much more enjoyable
when Louise visited with us.

As I mentioned earlier, Mac was a man of few words—especially when it came
to talking about himself. It was something we had to work around. I used to
tell him, "Mac, humility is a wonderful attribute, but the book's only going
to be fourteen pages unless you talk at least a little bit about yourself!"
In the end he came through, and his modesty was still apparent in the book.
At any rate, I really enjoyed working with him. He worked hard and honest,
and was a fine writer. I'm very proud that Mac—who had seen and done so
much—liked me.

Physically, Mac was the classic gentle giant. He had hands like a baseball
glove—big and rough. And an iron grip all the way to the end. But he never
showed off with that massive strength. A person just knew it was there. I
liked that about Mac.

And I'll miss him.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chuck Sweeney

My condolences on the passing of a very wonderful man. I remember the first time that I met “Mac” McWhorter was at Gillespie Field where he was on a panel of Pilots discussing tactics during WWII and he stood out as being very articulate but humble. My fondest memory of him was in May of 2004 aboard the USS Midway before it was open to the public. They had a “Handshake across the Oceans” ceremony with a large group of Japanese Zero Pilots who were touring the United States and wanted to meet US pilots from WWII. Mac was selected to be the U.S. representative to do the handshake with one of the Japanese pilots and he did a great job as always. Of course he stood head and shoulders above all of them but he was very gracious about the whole thing. With the help of an interpreter, he met a Zero pilot who happened to be in one of the same air battles with him but we figured they didn’t come across each other in the sky or the Zero pilot wouldn’t have made it through an encounter with Mac.

Mac was awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFCs) and was a great supporter of the DFC Society and the Lindbergh Chapter. His legacy with the DFC Society will continue as he is in a painting by the renowned artist Ruth Mayer entitled “Distinguished Flying Cross” .

The original of the painting is in the San Diego Air & Space Museum and will eventually be part of an interactive exhibit at the Museum. I will personally miss Mac very much and just feel lucky to have known him even for such a short period of time. I am also glad that I was able to meet so many members of his fantastic family.

Chuck Sweeney,
DFC Society

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Willy Driscoll

Please accept our sincere sympathies regarding the passing of your dad. I was at several aces events with your dad through the years. (I’m a Navy ace and flew during the Vietnam War with Duke Cunningham). The lessons we learned from aces like your dad were directly responsible for our success in combat. He’ll certainly be missed, but his lessons of combat will live on with all fighter pilots.


“Mig Ace”

Rex Thompson

Hello Jon...
My apologies for not realizing the date for memories has come and gone!
I read several of the blog entries and was most impressed...but...I guess most
of his squadron-mates such as I...have passed away or are unable to send their
memories to you???I always thot he was a little older than I..but found that my birth date 2 Dec 1920, preceded his! We both had many things in common..
we both took Civilian Pilot Training before the war, but he had two years college before I did and beat me to the USNavy...After the war I stayed in the Ready Reserves until I flunked the vision test! so I had to find other ways to enjoy the outdoors...sailing!

Thanks for giving your Dad such a great "BLOG" are a fine Son!
rex thompson VF-12 USS Randolph CV-15 (now scrap!)..I have a piece of the flight deck,tho!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

John Crump

I am sorry to hear of you father's passing.

My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

Your father was a truly great man, both in the service he gave to his country and in his everyday life.

I know I don't need to tell you that, because he was your father.

Yet, I thought you might want to know, because the impression I have of 'Mac' came during one of our Northern California Friends of the Fighter Aces symposiums.

We had a Saturday night dinner with the aces on the panel and then I had the extreme fortune to be the moderator for the Sunday panel discussion. In a very short period of time I understood a lot about the qualities your father possessed, from the way he spoke about his war experiences and about life and by the way he spoke with your mother. Quite a man.

I wrote your father an email after I read his book, and it remains in my top six of WWII fighter ace autobiographies for the experiences he shares, quality of writing and wonderful series of portraits his words paint. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to meet the men who penned those words.

Go forward in your life, knowing you carry an extraordinary legacy...

You should find it quite empowering.

Bill Speir

Jon, Today is the memorial service for Hamp, at Ft Roescrans National Cemetery..Just wanted you to know that Mary and I said a special prayer, and that I read the 'Old Prayer Book' Order for the Burial of the Dead 'in his memory.. he was a kind and wonderful person.... and was my personal hero.... not because of his amazing ' double-ace' career, but for the kind of man he was... Just wanted you to know... With best regards , Bill

Philippe and Bénédicte Saintes (Belgium).

Dear Jon,
I'm very sorry for your loss.
I've written an article about Mac for a French magazine some years ago. I visited with my wife your parents in El Cajon. The next day Mac guided us aboard the USS Midway. A fantastic week-end that we'll never forget.
Our condolences to you and Louise.

Alex Curti

First I would like to extend my condolences for your loss.
I met Mac some 25 years ago, he was my flight instructor at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. As a student pilot I felt very lucky to have him teach me how to fly, of course having Mac as my instructor came with some bragging rights. I currently live in Phoenix Arizona and I am a Captain for US Airways, and yet still when I talk to friends I find myself bragging about Mac. Looking back I think about my time with Mac at Gillespie Field and feel very grateful to have known him, I will always remember him.

God speed Mac.

John "wily" Mollison

People can achieve "greatness" but such things are really moments in time. Greatness comes and goes. What matters most is what happens between peaks, and valleys, for that matter. Though a lot of people have attained extremes of greatness, very few have achieved Goodness - the consistent living out of one's good beliefs and positive values.

Though Hamilton McWhorter was certainly a Great Man in his moments, I believe he was a Good Man during the rest of his life.

I was introduced to Mac in 2002 during my study into World War Two fighter pilots with the specific interest into what defined them as leaders, team players and successful individuals in the pressure of combat. Though I am still interviewing this distinct and powerful breed of man, of the 60+ in the docket, Hamilton McWhorter remains as one of my favorites.

As part of my interviews, I work to get beyond the "...and there I was at 15,000 feet, surrounded by..." stories. Knowing the character, values and thinking inside the young aviator and learning how (if at all) such things evolved over time, reveals lessons in growth for future generations - people who want to achieve, excel...basically "be good." Mac was always humble, always strong, always confident, always truthful...and always available. I got the impression Mac was somewhat thrilled with his celebrity status, but also considered it a responsibility as well. People talk about the athletic or entertainment star who always "seemed to have time for their fans"...if Providence had given Mac a .400 average or Oscar Awards, he'd have been the guy who stayed late to sign autographs and talk.

Joe Foss said, "It ain't braggin' if ya'done it." Mac had a way of sharing his exploits as if it were no big feat and anyone in the room could have, would have done the same.

Sifting through my interview notes, I came across a quote from Mac's wife, Louise - she stated that Mac, "...had no temper, no feud." Of all the great things Mac accomplished, Louise's blessing has to be the Hallmark that signifies a truly Good man - a man who could serve his country in war, yet remain humane and gentle to the ones who knew him best. In some ways, ANY person can have their moment of greatness, but it takes a really wonderful soul to have a wife of decades state such a thing about her husband.

Thank you Mac, for being a good example...I can only imagine that you were as excellent a father as you were a husband and servant of our country.

Sad for the loss, but impressed at such a rich life...I will think of you often.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Milton and Leonidas M. Leathers III

Hamilton McWhorter was my mother's first cousin. He and Bobby McWhorter (Dr. Robert Ligon McWhorter, Jr.) were Mother's two favorite cousins on the McWhorter side, I think. Hamilton died too young (to suit us, anyway). But another first cousin of his really died too young. Mac was born in Athens, Georgia. Howard Hart McWhorter (also "Mac") died in Athens, Georgia at 73 years old last fall. An Athens "Banner-Herald" article by UGA tennis coach Dan Magill appeared shortly thereafter. Some of the information in that write-up is pertinent to Mac of El Cajon, too (like the same grandfather: Judge Hamilton McWhorter). When Mac was a boy, he lived with his parents and brother Jim in the "Cloverhurst" mansion -- though lean times had come to Athens. Whatever hardships Mac endured, however, just molded him into the wonderful husband and father and great American that we all knew. Here are two Web sites that will be of interest to all who admired or loved this man:

My mother (at 93) and we will miss Hamilton's and Louise's visits to Athens!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Walt Blaseck

In the fall of 1953, I checked into VF-12 as a brand new Ensign, fresh out of flight and Jet School. Your Father was the Skipper and a fine Skipper he was. We were flying "Banshees" and it was a great Bird.

A few months later, we cruised down to "Gitmo" for Aerial gunnery where three other guys and myself were ComAirLant gunnery champs.Mac was extremely proud of us for that feat. A short time later, he completed his tour and was transferred out. He was a quiet man who led the squadron by example and intelligence. I for one, was sad to see him go.

Through the years we kept in touch and were able to see each other at our Squadron reunion in San Diego. During all those years, I never knew he was an "Ace" in WW2 until just a few years ago!

I asked him why he never mentioned it and he replied "I had so many Buddies and friends killed flying next to me in combat, I preferred not to bring back those memories by talking about it". Very few men would keep quiet about such an accomplishment!

I'm sure he's on tha big "Carrier in the Sky" lookin down at us, with that big smile and a twinkle in his eye!

George Blair

One of the memories I have of Mac is a statement he made in the VF9 ready room in 1943...

He said " It sems to me we're doing a lot of flotin and not much fightin".

As we know, that changed over Okinawa and then Japan.

Barrett Tillman

I knew Mac off & on for many years both as fighter aces secretary (civilian capacity) and a naval aviation historian. My last contact with him was late last year when he answered some questions about a former squadronmate who had left a diary with the Shangri-La Assn.

Mac was a man among men. Over the years I was privilged to know so many VF-9 and VF-12 aviators: Rube Denoff, Marv Franger, Lou Menard, Chick Smith, Hal Vita, Hugh Winters and others. Sometimes they asked me for confirmation of some obscure technical or historic fact, and I was pleased to help. When I reviewed the text of Mac's book I questioned a statement that F6Fs had used small (60-lb?) bombs for flak suppression. My recollection was that Grumman had considered the option of special racks but decided against it. Therefore, Mac omitted that passage from First Hellcat Ace. Years later--after publication--he found a document confirming his memory. Another "victory" for Mac!

Hugh Winters died within days of Mac, so my Fighting Nine friends are all gone. But just imagine the glorious reunion that's underway in Fighter Pilot Heaven.

Marvin J. Franger, Jr. DDS

I send my condolences to you and your family on your father's passing. Your Dad and I became e-mail buddies when I began answering his mail to my father. My Dad was a wing mate in VF-9 and a fighter ace as well. Marv and my mom are inturred in Arlington National Cemetary. When you have your memorial service, I will be there in spirit.

I don't know if you have this photo or not, but I thought I would send it along just in case. My Dad is on the right.

God Bless

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tod Rathbone

My name is Tod Rathbone. I run a WWII aviation website - I had the good fortune of meeting Mac at a military show where he was signing books. As it turned out, I had a tunic in my museum from one of his squadron mates, Hal Vita. We got to talking and we agreed to meet again. I was able to take Mac and Louise out to lunch in Fashion Valley. They were lovely enough to invite me to their home. At home we were able to share stories and look through some of the memorabilia of the time. I have since posted scans I took of his pictures and cruisebook, which you have posted on the blog. You can view the Mac McWhorter page here. I really enjoyed meeting your Dad and am sorry to see him go. To Louise, my best wishes and heartfelt condolences on your loss. I hope to see you again.


Bob Brunn

I found out about your father's passing last weekend . I had the pleasure of being an "email buddy" of your dad's and I had a gut feeling I needed to Google his name last Sunday night as I had not emailed him since January or February. That is when I found the obituary . Needless to say, my heart sank as I read it . But I am thankful for having known him by email for 10 years. I am a Naval Aviation buff and I emailed him back in 1998 about the F6F. He not only wrote back by email but asked for my address. He then mailed me a very nice packet of signed photos and a copy of his WW2 Memories ! It is one of my treasured possessions. Once he found out I lived in Savannah GA we started talking about his family in GA as well. He was always more than happy to talk aviation and he was and will remain a great Hero and Role Model to me.

God Bless your mom and your family. Your dad will be missed.

Bob Brunn
Savannah, GA

Owen Miller

My dad was a WWII Naval Aviator so I grew up on stories of Wildcats and Hellcats.

Probably all little boys have an interest in the military and combat but I really got "the bug".
Kids today have heroes from the sports and entertainment world. My heroes back then (as well as today) have names like McCampbell, Foss, McWhorter, and Best. I always felt these guys were not only the ones we owe our freedom to but the ones to look toward
to see how to live your life.

About 1988 I decided I wanted to get to know some of these men I had read bout
and admired. I began to track them down, meet them, and try to record their stories.
It was in the course of this that I met Mac. He always had time for me. We began to
exchange letters and later email. As we got to know each other a little better we discover-
ed we had similar political views. I really enjoyed the book when it came out and I bought
several copies to give as Christmas presents. Mac signed mine for me and he also signed
some other photos and the aviation prints depicting him. (I want to add here that I'm not
one of the guys who gets photos signed and then sells them on eBay. Mine are either on
the walls of my study or in albums.)

I only got to meet Mac and Louise one time. They were in Pensacola for a convention.
I got in touch and arranged to meet them. I was able to buy them lunch and we had a really
good visit. I only wish it had been longer. My hope was to take them to Trader Jon's but
that day there was no time for the drive. We talked about doing it the next time they came
to town. Hurricane Ivan took care of what was left of Traders in 2005 so we never got to
go there.. Mac remembered the place from his active duty days.

I used to tease Mac, asking him what a Georgia boy was doing in California with all
the liberals. He countered that he didn't have to worry about hurricanes out west. I would
then ask him about the forest fires, landslides, and earthquakes. We had a lot of fun with

Mac was truly a member of the greatest generation. These men saved freedom in
the world, then they went home and raised families, protected our freedom, and made
America the greatest country. We all owe them a debt that can never be repaid. About
the onlt thing we can do is remember what they did and honor them for it.

Owen Miller

(Attached is a photo of my little tribute to Mac on the wall in my study. It's my way to
remember a very quiet and humble man.)

Joseph and Barbara DuErmit

Dear Mrs. McWhorter and Family,

My family and I would like to send our most heart felt sympathies and prayers on the loss of your husband and Father. I served on board the USS Essex CV 9 from September 1943 to February 1946. During the time Air Group 9 was assigned to the USS Essex I was in the Air Department in the deck crew as a plane handler, better known as a "Plane pusher". To us teenagers all the pilots were looked up to as heroes. I didn't have the honor to know your husband personally at that time, but we sure knew of him! In 1998 when we had the USS Essex reunion in San Diego at the Hanalei Hotel, I was Chairman of the association, you and your husband were kind enough to attend and sit at our banquet table, it was the first time I had the opportunity to shake his hand. Over the past few years it was always a pleasure to exchange e-mails with Mac on everything from Military to politics. I liked to accuse him of being one of the fighter pilots that used to buzz us poor sailors when we we stringing cable on top of the ninety foot antenna masts, you never heard the plane until it was well past you, very scary. Mac always denied being one of those pilots he claimed he was too anxious to get back aboard safely and had no desire to pull anything like buzzing a sailor hanging ninety feet above the water line! I will most certainly miss him and his e-mails.

With our prayers and thoughts,

Joseph and Barbara DuErmit

Julian, Ca

Rodney and Elaine Mercer

It is with our sincere sorrow that we learn of Grampa Mac's passing. I had just sent an email of The Battle Hymn of the Republic that I thought Mac and Louise would enjoy, when the notice came over my email. Rod, Megan, and I have always loved them so much and enjoyed their company whenever we were together. Louise, I will send you a letter very soon. Elaine Mercer

John Mollison

Thank you for the opportunity - I'll collect my thoughts and post to your blog; your request is an honor as I regarded your dad highly.

I'm sad that your family has lost his presence...but his wonderful example is timeless.

Hamilton McWhorter was an excellent man - a leader, a servant and obviously celebrated good character by being an example.

I will tell my son of your father's passing. Curtis drew your dad's F6F in a duel with a Zero - your father replied back with a letter that my son has kept as a memento.

In the meantime, you may not know that I did a limited edition print series of the Hellcat your father flew from the Randolph.

Kind regards

Ouyang Xizhen and Lin Chengzhang

Dear Louise and your family,

We are deeply sorry to learn that Mac passed away on 12th April. Mac was a fighting hero of the American people and the closest friend of our family. Please accept our very sincere condolences in your great loss.

Your Chinese friends

Ron Shelby

I was not a close personal friend with your dad, but we had a LOT of communication via e-mail.

Once he learned that I was a Republican, he sent me every article that he found, most of which came from high ranking officials in government (mostly military). His source of information was amazing and I felt despite the use of the computer and not personal meetings, we became friends. I often joked about the fact that there are Republicans and then there was your dad who was a REPUBLICAN.

I also purchased his book and was fascinated by his recounting of his Naval experience and how he earned the reputation of being the first WWII Hellcat ace. There was one occasion when I came by his home (was picking up my wife who was a good friend to your mother and was attending a get-together with her and some other ladies of FUMC of El Cajon); and Mac and I visited for awhile at which time I asked him why he waited so long to write his book. He looked at me and I felt real pain in his expression when he simply replied....."I just couldn't do it sooner; the memory of my lost comrades and friends was too painful to write about any sooner." I saw a very tender warm hearted man in my midst and I will always remember him that way.

Lee Mooney

"Mac" was my very first Commanding Officer upon completeing flight training in June 1955.

William [Bud] Gehoe

My wife Peggy & I wish to express our sincerest sympathy on your lost.

It was my pleasure of being Mac's wingman for two years. An " ACE " he was but a gentleman & frieind came first in his life. After 65 years we had a great time renewing our freinship. He always said I was the lucky one being so small because I could hide behind the armor plating and he could not.

From nephew Jim Jr.

If Jim McWhorter (my father) had survived his older brother Hamilton, he would proudly avow his enduring admiration going back to their sibling days in Georgia and affectionately reminisce over their impressive destinies in life. Possibly through celestial coaching, who knows, an impromptu poem somehow flowed out last week for my Aunt Louise in loving memory of my Uncle Hamilton…

Emerged a young man, Hamilton McWhorter,
A quiet, humble portrait of his ancestral order.

His life had been simply hunting and flying,
Now the world was chaotic, families were crying.

After enlisting to serve in the war overseas,
He married his sweetheart, his beauty Louise.

Those tearful goodbyes, would he ever return?
It was the F6F and her prayers, she would learn.

The time seemed forever, then came year ’45.
He was returned to his Louise, safe and alive.

A reprieve for full life, a great family they grew.
Vast values conveyed from the days when he flew.

His legacy is stellar with nothing left to enhance.
Thanks to God, each new day is a second chance.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

William Speir

Dear Jon, I think what you propose is a wonderful memorial to Hamp, as I always called him , or 'Mac' as his military friends dubbed him. We shared maternal grandparents..... and after an amazing hurricane in Florida, the McWhorters came to Hillsboro, GA, and lived with the grandparents, as we all did , too. I was an infant, at the time, don't remember anything..... but later, wore Jim McW's Alabama jersey proudly for a number of years.... When my family was stationed in Germany & Morocco, in the late 50's and early 60's, Hamp was my anchor- at the time, he was the executive officer of the USS Enterprise, I believe.. when I arrived by FLOGWING ( space available) during college, this soft-spoken, nice man ( Hamp) would always meet me.... show me the carrier, and drive me home. He and Louise were the anchors for a callow youth , who had not found his way...I never realized, at that time, that they really cared for me- my mistake.

I still have a letter- a treasured possession- from Hamp , dated May 16, 2001...: 'Dear Bill and Mary, Certainly wish that we did not live so far away- cannot recall the last time that we saw you. Hope that someday you will get out this way and stop by to visit with us....' The next year , after I had retired as Chief of Pulmonary/ Critical Care Medicine and was a Professor Emeritus, we had lunch with Hamp & Louise at 'The Yacht Club' overlooking the harbor.... an absolutely delightful time. Then , 2 years later, at the end of a lecture tour, Hamp and Louise spent 3 days with us in Augusta... a most enjoyable time, and they both thoroughly charmed Augusta....(knew they would)... I was devastated by the news, but as a Marine fighter pilot during the early Viet Nam War said...' God bless Ham and his buddies, they're our heroes... they have a special place in heaven for Ham & his friends.' Bless you , Jon, for doing this......................... Bill & Mary

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Don Remembers…..

Just soon after my Dad left this earth, my brother Hamilton called my mother and all the siblings into the room so “we” could have that special time together after the Head of our Family had just passed away. One of the things that my brother said was that my Dad was a very special man to have the patience that is required with such a special family like ours. My Dad never wavered.

When he passed away I was 58 years old and I had only glanced at his book. Over the years I have always wondered why my Dad had never given up on me. After a couple of days my wife found the copy of his book that he had signed for me and I read it with a feeling that Dad was talking right to me.

In Chapter 3 of his book he was talking about how he was doing very well and the only real trouble he had was of his own doing. One day he succumbed to the temptation of a mock dog fight with another cadet and got caught by an instructor. After several spins my Dad got caught between the ground and the instructor’s plane. The instructor motioned to follow him back toward the field as they leveled.

What good is a pilot that would not follow instructions or willfully disobey a direct order my Dad thought? Dad stiffened to attention at the sight of the instructor. “That spin was really a good trick” he said. “You almost lost me”. The instructor had given him a backhanded compliment and his punishment was light.

This example of Dad’s reckless thinking at such a young age gave me a very secure feeling. He really understands me and loves me.

Bill Remembers…..

My Dad had a life filled with different seasons of glory. He loved his family, always thought of my mother and what was best for her over him. I remember him lying in a bed at the hospital and he said with a smile, “You should be at home looking after your mother, not here”.

He considered everyone that came into his life as important. Not what they wore or the watch on their arm, but the person inside was important. He had a love of the outdoors. He loved to hunt. At home on the wall are the trophy horns of a deer he shot at a young age. He loved to sail his boat with his family on the Chesapeake.

He loved roses and would say, “How beautiful!”, when I brought home a new plant. He explained how to trim them and water them so that they turn out the best. As he told me how to take care of the roses in order to turn out the best. I thought of how he took care of his family so they turned out the best.

He loved a certain peach tree I brought home. He told me to move the tree so that we could all see it growing. He loved the beauty and the differences in each plant. I remember this because I am his only farmer child. I will remember the love he had for his country and the dangerous tales he told when he went to his Flying Society meetings. He stood in front of everyone and told of his friends’ deaths and how he missed them. Then he would tell his own stories, which were filled with glory.

Georgia Remembers…

My sweetest memories of Dad stand out as moments in crystal bubbles; Riding on the handle bars of the bike in front of him as he pedaled down the sidewalk of Warner Circle; Standing on his shoulders as he walked underwater across the entire pool in Pensacola; Dancing with him in the living room as a little girl, my feet planted firmly on his; Screaming as fire ants swarmed, biting and stinging, over my feet and legs in Pensacola, and being rescued by him, swept up and raced into the basement where he rinsed the ants away; Playing three-pitch in the backyard wherever we were (he was a great pitcher) and we all got our hits; Watching him build anything; the boat dock or the color TV in Norfolk, the house in El Cajon.

He could do anything and answer any question. He knew everything until I was well into my 40’s. I finally stumped him with a math question that even my friend with a PhD in math couldn’t answer, but I asked Dad first. I always went to Dad first, he was my hero.

Jon Remembers…..

Our family took vacations to California every other year or so to visit relatives and spend time sightseeing. When I was around 5 year old, we spent a weekend in Disneyland and I remember being in awe of all the sights and sounds of that magical place. For some reason dad wore his military summer khaki’s to the park this time, maybe it was military discount week (wouldn’t surprise me) or there was some other reason, but I remember dad lifting me up in his big strong arms to see Mickey Mouse walk by. Well, Mickey came over and gave me a great big Disneyland hug and a pat on the head. And I guess that in dad’s arms it was safe to be hugged by a 5 foot tall mouse with big black ears, because I wasn’t afraid at all! (In fact, as I remember, dad’s arms were just about the safest place I could ever be.)

Later that day I had to use the bathroom and dad went in with me, but he finished first and left me there to finish up on my own – I insisted, ‘cause after all I was 5 (or almost) and a big boy now! I came running out of the restroom and grabbed onto the first khaki covered leg that I could see, hugging it and swinging around it like only a 5 year old can - only to look up and discover that it wasn’t dad at all, but some other Navy officer with his own family in tow. I was shocked, embarrassed, and frightened all at once, until I felt those familiar arms reach down and lift me up to safety. Dad surrounded once again in those big, safe arms and gave me a hug and a kiss that let me know that everything was alright, that I was ok.

And you know, I think that that message has been his most enduring and endearing message to me throughout my life… he always let me know that I am ok.

Mac recounts a battle victory

Leading the Hellcats was LT Hamilton W. "Mac" McWhorter III, now on his second combat tour in the Pacific after becoming the first Hellcat ace of World War II and the Navy's first double-ace of the war during his first Western Pacific tour a year earlier:

"We were orbiting at 12,000 feet on combat air patrol, when we were given a vector to intercept four bogies at twenty-thousand-plus. We applied full power and started climbing. By the time we got to 20,000, I spotted a single airplane ahead at 24,000, just making a bit of a contrail. I was climbing faster than the others in the division, and hit the water injection to catch up to him. I was right up on him at six o-clock and about one hundred feet below when I opened fire. He never made a move, but the engine went up and then his fuel tank caught. I was so close when he blew up that I had his engine oil all over the canopy. He went straight in as a fireball all the way down."
The date was May 12, 1945 - the Myrt was McWhorter's twelfth and final victory of the war.

Dad's Obit

April 24, 2008
Hamilton “Mac” McWhorter was 7 years old when a barnstorming pilot visited his hometown and he took his first ride in an airplane.

From that moment, he knew he never wanted to do anything else.

The future Navy commander was a naval aviation cadet undergoing training when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Within a couple of years he had become the first American pilot to achieve “Ace” status flying a new airplane, the Hellcat.

By May 1945, he had shot down at least 12 Japanese planes and escaped danger on several occasions. In a book he wrote more than 50 years later, retired Cmdr. McWhorter recounted his war experiences, including battles over North Africa and the Pacific.

Cmdr. McWhorter died of natural causes April 12 at his home in El Cajon. He was 87.

His wife, Louise, said he loved flying and that was a big reason he made a career in the Navy. He later taught three of their five children to fly and after retiring from the Navy, he became a flight instructor at Gillespie Field.

“He was so proud that so many of his students became airline pilots,” she said.

Cmdr. McWhorter didn't talk much about the war to his family until he joined other fighter aces and started touring air shows where the members of the “greatest generation” shared their experiences.

Cmdr. McWhorter was born Feb. 8, 1921, in Athens, Ga., to Hamilton McWhorter Jr. and Nettie Lou Peurifoy McWhorter.

He met his future wife in November 1942 in Norfolk, Va., at a party thrown for a friend who had been shot down over the Atlantic during the invasion of North Africa. The friend had been reported dead, but when his friends found out he had been rescued, they threw a resurrection party.

Eight weeks later, Louise and “Mac” McWhorter were married. The couple had five children and later opened their home to a struggling Chinese immigrant family for a few years.

Cmdr. McWhorter was a member of the American Fighter Aces Association, the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and the Tailhook Association. He received several military honors including five Distinguished Cross Medals. Cmdr. McWhorter was elected to the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 1989.

The family moved to El Cajon in 1968, and he retired as the executive officer of Naval Air Station, Miramar in 1969. Cmdr. McWhorter spent the ensuing years as a “gentleman farmer” tending to avocado trees at the family's home, as a flight instructor and an author.

He coauthored a book, “The First Hellcat Ace,” that was published in 2001. In 2006, Cmdr. McWhorter was interviewed for a History Channel segment on dogfights.

Besides his wife, survivors include sons, Donald of Lemon Grove, William of El Cajon, Hamilton IV of San Diego and Jon of San Diego; daughter, Georgia Scheingross of San Diego; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church of El Cajon. Ashes will be interred at 1 p.m. May 5 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

Donations are suggested to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.