An All American Boy
John James Voll was born May 3, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the oldest of 5 children. John later moved to Goshen where he and his siblings all attended school. John graduated in 1940.
John enlisted in the Air Corps Reserve on August 5, 1942, and finally began Aviation Cadet training on March 8, 1943.
In 1943, John entered Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. The 1943 edition of the Miami Recensio includes pictures of John on the Miami freshman football team.
Biography of a WWII Ace
He graduated from pilot training on Jan. 7, 1944 and joined the 308th FS, 31st FG in May of 1944, his first mission a bomber escort over Italy.
He flew Mustangs with the 308th FS of the 31st Fighter Group, 15th Air Force. John Voll was the third highest scoring Mustang ace of the war, and the top U.S.A.A.F. ace of the MTO, with 21 victories.
After leaving the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Captain Voll was sent to China as a headquarters staff officer in the Chinese-American Composite Wing. When the war ended, he was discharged from the military.
Voll in Action
August 17, 1944, Romania.
While escorting B-24s on a bombing mission against the Ploesti oil refineries, a squadron mate of then Lieutenant Voll was forced to bail out near the Danube River.
After covering his friend until he safely reached the ground, Voll pulled away from the crash site and spotted three Me-109s. The fierce air battle that ensued became "sweet revenge" for Lieutenant Voll. With a tally of two enemy fighters destroyed and one probable, he more than evened the score for his downed friend.
Final Combat Mission
Flying a P-51D named "American Beauty," his final victories occurred during a spectacular, individual effort. While leading an escort mission to Munich on 16 November 1944, Captain Voll experienced electrical problems and left the formation.
As he returned alone, he spotted a single Ju-88 over Udine, Italy. Chasing the German aircraft as it attempted to return to its base, Voll was suddenly jumped by 12 Me-109s and FW-190s. He quickly dispatched the Ju-88 and turned into the enemy fighters. In a swirling, 5-minute battle, John Voll destroyed two FW-190s, one Me-109, had two probables, and two damaged… an impressive feat of courage and stamina.
A Life of Service
After the war, Voll returned to Goshen and became the high school science teacher at his alma mater. He taught two years before being recalled to active duty in 1948.
He continued his military service primarily in the Tactical Air Command, but he also served in the Korean War, and in 1968 he was the Chief of Tactical Plans for the Seventh Air Force in Vietnam. Voll was instrumental in implementing Operation "Rolling Thunder" in Vietnam.
From Flying Ace to Commander
Colonel Voll was the Base Commander of McClellan AFB, California, when he retired in 1974.
John and his wife Joan, who was from Blanchester Ohio, had 2 children. After retiring, they lived in Lexington, Massachusetts.
John died on September 12, 1987, age 65, and is buried at the Massachusetts Veterans Administration National Cemetery.
What Happened to the American Beauty, AKA the Lovely Lila?
American Beauty was built as a P-51D - 25NA Mustang in California in 1944. She wore the name American Beauty on her left side (pilot’s license) and Lovely Lila on her right (crew chief’s license). Upon leaving the American military service, she was transferred to the Bolivian Air Force, where she served as a front line fighter. In the late 1960's she was sent to Sarasota, Florida for a complete overhaul and upgrade package, then returned to the Bolivian service in 1968.
After an uneventful peacekeeping career, the aircraft was owned by private individuals in Canada and the US for 20 years until she was purchased by Gardner Capital in 1998. She was then disassembled and a complete restoration began by Fort Wayne Air Service in Fort Wayne, IN.
After approximately three years and thousands of man hours, this Mustang "American Beauty", was restored as a to tribute Captain John J. Voll and the entire 31st Fighter Group. It wears the authentic paint scheme of the 308th Fighter Squadron, and Fifteenth Air Force with the red spinner and narrow red nose band, and red striped tail which made these Mustangs so distinctive!