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Freedom Rings: ‘Faster than a speeding bullet’

Connie Mac Milum broke the sound barrier many times as a pilot in the United States Navy.

By Don Hall

News-Leader staff

So often, we know people but we don’t know much about their background. This is the second in a series of articles highlighting Nashville natives who answered freedom’s call by serving in the armed forces.

The year was 1954, and Connie Mac Milum was finishing his second year at the University of Arkansas. He was young, bored with school, and looking for adventure. 

An uncle was a Chief Petty Officer in an aviation wing in the Navy, and Connie Mac decided that becoming a Naval Aviator sounded better than going back to college. He enlisted in the Navy and began the journey to becoming a pilot; a journey that would begin with Flight School in Pensacola and culminate more than a year later with his first solo carrier landing.

Connie Mac began in a trainer with a flight instructor onboard. As his abilities progressed, he moved on to more complex aircraft and to flying single-seaters, eventually piloting the F4D. 

A fighter with a top speed of more than 700 miles an hour which held the world speed and climb records, it was in the F4D 

that Connie Mac first broke the sound barrier, something he would go on to do many more times over the years. 

After 4 1/2 years of active duty, flying carrier-based aircraft, Connie Mac joined the Naval Reserve, serving an additional 6 years flying a fighter based in Memphis.

Connie Mac did eventually return to college, earning a degree in Ag Business. From 1963-1978, he was complex manager for Central Soya. 

He and his wife Gail, a school teacher, raised their two children in Nashville and then moved to Pine Bluff, where he owned his own business. They lived in Pine Bluff from 1979-2000 before retiring back to Nashville. 

“It was an honor to serve,” he says of his naval career. “No regrets.”

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