Ed McMahon, fighter pilot

Ed McMahon, best known as a foil to Johnny Carson – a gig that lasted 30 years – died June 23 at the age of 86. Barely mentioned in his obituaries was the fact that during World War II McMahon was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, flight instructor and test pilot. He was sent to Korea in 1952, where he flew unarmed OE-1 Bird Dogs on 85 tactical air control and artillery spotting missions. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring as a colonel – no mean achievement for a Marine – in 1966. Later, he was commissioned a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard. McMahon earned six Air Medals, also no mean achievement.

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