Monday, July 6, 2009


John Verdi was one of the most unique, brilliant and courageous individuals I have ever known. He was a civilian contract pilot during the Indochina war, flying the C-119 Flying Boxcar with Civilian Air Transport (CAT) for the French. He had some fantastic experiences.

There was that time when John was preparing to take off with a load of cargo for the French, when he was told that he would also have to ferry some recently captured Viet Minh prisoners on the same flight. John said that with the added weight of the prisoners on takeoff, he would not be able to clear the nearby hills if he lost one of his engines. He was told that he would have to take the prisoners anyway.

John ordered the load master to palletize the prisoners, and place the pallets in line next to the rear doors of the C-119. So that if the plane lost an engine after it was airborne, the pallets would be quickly disconnected, rapidly slide free, and jettison out the open rear doors of the C-119. Even the French couldn't abide that, and John didn't have to ferry the prisoners.

He became a USMC officer and pilot, flying jets in the 50's. He had some more incredible flying experiences with the Marines during the Korean War and the Cold War, and he self published a book in soft cover, Verdi, John Minturn, First Hundred: A Memoir of the Korean War, 1952-1953.

Sadly, on October 31, 1991, he was flying a privately owned F9F-8T (N24WJ) two place Cougar fighter, and both he and a passenger were lost somewhere near the coast of Louisiana. The cause of the crash is unknown, and neither the airplane or remains of John and the passenger have ever been found. He was only 53. Let me know if you had known this Great Flier. - Roy

Thanks to my friend, Lynn Clough, for this excellent sketch of John, made after his very distinguished military career.