John "Jack" MacNair Wright, Jr. was born 14 Apr 1916, at Los
Angeles, CA. He died 27 Jan 2014 at Riverside, CA. On 28 Jun
1940, he married Helene Tribit at Beverly Hills, CA. Jack grew
up in Hollywood and was active with the Boy Scouts of America,
reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. He obtained an appointment to
the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, with the Class of
1940. While at West Point, he starred in varsity soccer,
becoming an All-American.
Upon graduation, 2nd Lieutenant Wright was commissioned in the
Coast Artillery Corps and sent for duty in the Philippines,
assigned to the 91st Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts. After
the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, the Philippines were
invaded by the Japanese. American forces withdrew to the Bataan
Peninsula and then to the island of Corregidor. With most of the
American artillery already destroyed, he was given a roving
155mm gun and given authority to position it anywhere he had
effective fire on the Japanese at Bataan. He fired the last
artillery salvo at the Japanese before being forced to surrender
on May 6, 1942.
Jack was taken prisoner and remained a prisoner
of war for the duration of World War II, surviving disease and
incredible deprivation. He was ultimately liberated at a POW
camp in Korea in Sep 1945. For his actions at Corregidor and
leadership afterward, Captain Wright was awarded the Silver Star
and the Purple Heart.
In 1948, Major Wright served as the Military Attaché to the U.S.
Embassy in Paraguay. He later attended The Infantry School at
Fort Benning, GA. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded
the 3rd Battalion, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. During
the Korean War, Lieutenant Colonel Wright served as Executive
Officer for the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
In 1961, Colonel Wright attended the National War College,
following which he served in Germany as Chief of Staff for the
8th Infantry Division, followed by assignments as G-3 for the
VII Corps and then G-3 for the Seventh Army. In 1964, he was
promoted to Brigadier General and transferred to Fort Benning as
Assistant Division Commander of the 11th Air Assault Division
(Test), serving under Major General Harry Kinnard as the
Division Commander. It was the purpose of this unit to test,
evaluate and develop the airmobile doctrine to be used by the
U.S. Army in Vietnam. Brigadier General Wright was determined to
become a helicopter pilot himself, and in 1965, he was
designated a U.S. Army Aviator. In that year, the division was
reformed as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and deployed to
In 1967, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was promoted to Major General
and given command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA. In
1969, he was made Commanding General of the 101st Airborne
Division during combat operations in Vietnam. For his
leadership, courage and professionalism, he was awarded his
second Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying
Cross and 47 Air Medals.
Following his second tour in Vietnam, John MacNair Wright, Jr.
was promoted to Lieutenant General and transferred to the
Pentagon in Washington, DC, to serve as Comptroller of the Army,
a post he held until his retirement from the Army in 1972. Upon
his retirement, he was awarded his third Distinguished Service
Medal. For his contributions to Army aviation and the
development of the airmobile concept of helicopter combat
operations, Lieutenant General John MacNair Wright, Jr., USA
(Retired) was inducted into the U.S. Army Aviation Hall of Fame
Upon his retirement from the Army, Lieutenant General Wright
served successively as the National Director of Research and
Development, National Director of Programs and National Director
of Exploring for the Boy Scouts of America. He was awarded the
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1971, the George Washington
Honor Medal by the Freedom�s Foundation at Valley Forge, and in
2007 was presented the Distinguished Graduate Award by the U.S.
Military Academy Association of Graduates.
courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery]
Grave markers for John M. and Helene T. Wright in Section
59, Site 1551, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington (Arlington
In September 1972, then Lieutenant
Colonel Wright was a mentioned as commanding officer of one of the 508th