Highest-Ranking American Survivor Of D-Day Has Died

General Seth J.McKee
General Seth J.McKee

General Seth McKee, the highest ranking survivor of the D-Day invasion in the Second World War, died at age 100 in Scottsdale, AZ, in December.

McKee, leading a group of fighter planes, provided air cover for invading Allied forces who invaded France from the beachhead at Normandy in 1944.

He described the armada in a 2014 interview as so numerous he could have walked from one ship deck to another without getting his feet wet.

German forces didn’t mount any defensive action during the mission, he said. Nevertheless, he was in dogfights as combat progressed inland.  McKee said he flew close to 70 missions and his plane would take at least one hit.  He remembered nine successive missions when enemy fire destroyed his engine.

The potential danger wasn’t foremost in his thoughts, even after parts of a mission when his fighter resembled a sieve more an airplane, he said.

Following the war, McKee held close to every rank in the Air Force. Before retirement, his final post was as commander of NORAD.  He became a four-star general when he took command.

His intent when he joined the Army Air Corps was to earn money for medical school. Instead, the Air Force became his career.

McKee moved to Arizona after retirement from the military. He still drove at age 97 and did it like a fighter pilot, said his wife.

He was made a Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honour by France, the country’s highest accolade.

One of the general’s sons, William McKee, said his father had for many years turned down ceremonies and honors but accepted the Chevalier so his great-grandchildren would be witnesses to history.

Although a warrior, Seth said he disliked war.

McKee was of the opinion that the Second World War was the last conflict the United States entered to win although the military at times had been used to assist in protecting the financial interest or powerful companies or individuals of the country, but not to benefit the entire country, USA Today reported.

He is survived by his wife, three sons, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE