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First Name: John

Last Name: Condon

Birthplace: MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Pomeroy

Date of Birth: 20 December 1911

Date of Death: 26 December 1996

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
John Pomeroy Condon

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


John Pomeroy Condon
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps

John Pomeroy Condon was born on 20 December 1911 in Michigan.

Military Career

Condon graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1934 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following graduation he was assigned to the Basic School, which at the time, was located in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. After Basic School he briefly served aboard the USS Pennsylvania, assigned to the Marine detachment. His next assignment was to command the Machine Gun Platoon of Company H, 2nd Batallion, 6th Marines.

He realized his real interest was in flying and requested to attend flight school. His request was approved and he attended Flight School at Pensacola, FL, in October 1936. Upon completion of his flight training in December 1937, he was designated a Naval Aviator and assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 1 at Quantico. He remained with Squadron 1 until June 1941.

In June 1941, Condon was transferred to VMF-121 and assigned duty as Squadron Executive Officer. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Squadron was transferred to San Diego and, in March 1942, he was transferred to Marine Aircraft Group 12 as Group Operations Officer. In January 1943, the Group went forward to Noumea and then up to Efate in the New Hebrides. When his group commander was ordered to Guadalcanal to relieve the fighter commander of Aircraft Solomons, Condon went along to be the Operations Officer.

On 16 April, Rear Admiral Mitscher, Commander of AirSols, received a highly classified message signed by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. It was based on translated radio intercepts of Japanese transmissions and stated that Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack and senior Japanese naval officer, was to make an inspection tour of Japanese bases in the Rabaul-Bougainville-Kahili area. The AirSols command interpreted Knox's message as directing them to intercept Yamamoto's plane and shoot it down. Condon was called into Admiral Mitchser's headquarters and was ordered to prepare a plan of action to find and intercept Yamamoto's plane. The final result of this mission was that the P38s assigned to intercept Admiral Yamamoto's flight shot his bomber down, which caused a morale crisis in Japan when news of his death was released to the Japanese people. Because of Condon's role as AirSols Operation Officer and planner for this mission, for many years he was considered the "duty expert."

Lieutenant Colonel Condon next accompanied the AirSols command in the invasion of Bougainville on 1 November 1943. The missions of AirSols were to supervise the building of the Piva strips and to direct the operations of Allied aircraft which rose from the new airfield to strike Rabaul, the heart of enemy strength in the area. In January 1944, Condon returned to the U.S. for assignment as Executive Officer of Marine Base Defense Aircraft Group 45 on the west coast in Miramar, CA.

In October he was reassigned as Executive Officer of Marine Aircraft Support Group 48, which was tasked with training and qualifying Marine squadrons for service on board escort carriers to fill the Navy's need for additional carrier-borne planes in the final days of the war. Condon returned to the Pacific to join MAG 33 on Okinawa as Executive Officer, and later joined MAG 14 as its Commander.

Post-World War II

During the occupation of Japan, he served as Executive Officer of Marine Air Group 31 at Yokosuka. In the period from 1946-48, he was assigned in Washington to the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air. In the post-WWII period, he commanded several groups and squadrons. One of these was VMF 311, the first Marine jet squadron "stood up." Condon related in his memoirs that he was given this command because he had been instrumental in getting jet aircraft for the Corps when serving in the office of the DCNO. He went to the Air War College at Maxwell AFB in 1949 and, following graduation, was assigned back to Washington for duty in the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In 1952, Colonel Condon was assigned to take command of MAG 33 at Pohang in Korea. After six months, he was given command of MAG 12. He returned to the U.S. in early 1953 and was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps to sit on a board to examine the structure of Marine Corps aviation.

In 1954 Condon was assigned as Chief of Staff of the Education Center and in 1956 as Chief of Staff of the 2nd Marine Corps Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point. In 1958, he was promoted to Brigadier General and went to Paris, France, to become Assistant J-3 on the staff of the U.S. European Command. Following his tour in Europe in 1961, Condon was assigned as Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Iwakuni, Japan. He was also the Commander of Task Force 79 (Seventh Fleet), and Commander, Joint Task Force 116 (CinCPac). He was promoted to Major General later in 1961 and was ordered back to the U.S. as Commander of the 3rd MAW in July of 1962.

Major General Condon retired from the Marine Corp in 1962 after more than 28 years of service. Many believe that his service as the Planning Officer in preparing the intercept of Admiral Yamamoto's plane was a vital factor in bringing the war in the Pacific to an earlier end.

In Retirement

After retiring from the Marine Corp, he spent 14 years with North American Aviation and Rockwell International. Just prior to Condon's death he authored the book "Corsairs and Flattops" a history of the Marines in aviation.

Death and Burial

Major General John Pomeroy Condon died of lymphoma and an aneurysm on 26 December 1996 at his home in Alexandria, VA. He is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 2360   Created by: MHOH




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