P-51D 44-15198 MC-L "E.K. and Jay Bee/Suzanne"
John Lee was a Fighter Pilot in WW-II with the 8th Air Force, in England. He was in the 79th Fighter Squadron of the 20th Fighter Group. (His Squadron Commander was Jack Ilfrey, who was from Houston, Texas, who was the 1st Ace in North Africa in WW-II, flying the P-38 airplane.) John flew 52 combat missions in the P-51 Mustang, escorting the B17, and B-24 Bombers, and the British Mosquito Photo Reconnaissance Airplanes over Europe. He also conducted strafing missions of Airports, Trains and Train Marshalling Yards. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 6 Air Medals and 3 Battle Stars. The Battle stars were for the Battle of France, the Battle of the Ardennes, (known as the Battle of the Bulge), and the Battle of Europe.
In WW-II, the Germans were ahead of the US in a number of Areas of Technology. They had developed the 1st Operational Rocket and Jet Airplanes. Wernher von Braun and his staff were on a rock island in the North Sea named Pennemunde. They had developed the 1st operational Guided Missile, the V-1, and the V-2 Rockets that were used to bomb England. John got to see these in missions over Europe.
After the war, he received his Degree in Mechanical Engineering with courses in Aeronautical Engineering, from VPI, (the Virginia Polytechnic Institute), at Blacksburg, Virginia. In 1948, he went to work for NACA, (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), at Langley Field, in Hampton, Virginia. In 1958, NACA became the nucleus for NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), to start the Manned Space Flight Program. He was one of the first 35 people assigned to the Space Task Group that started the Manned Space Flight Program.
20 years later John found himself in meetings, and standing on the Saturn Booster Test stands with his WW-II adversaries, Wernher von Braun and his staff from Peenamundee.
He was Chief of the Mechanical Systems Section, on the Mercury Project. He later became a Technical Assistant to the Director of Engineering and Development. Up until his retirement, he was involved in the Design, Development, and Testing of the Space Craft Hardware, and the Technical support to the Mission Control Center, for the Flight Missions of the Manned Spacecraft
Mr. Lee has retired from NASA and now lives in Nassau Bay, Texas. He is on the Board of Directors for the Johnson Space Center NASA Alumni League. He is a member of the Space Center Rotary Club, and NARFE (the National Association of Retired Federal Employees).