Christopher Magee was born on June 12, 1917 in Omaha, Nebraska to parents Fred and Marie Magee (nee Considine).

Magee was named after his uncle and respected Republican Pittsburgh politician, also named Christopher Magee (1848-1901). In 1918, the Magee family moved to Chicago where Chris graduated from Mount Caramel high school in 1935.

In 1941, Magee traveled to Canada to join his cousin John Gillespie Magee jr in the Royal Canadian Air force. By the time Magee's training was nearly completed in 1942, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, resulting in Franklin Roosevelt declaring war on the Empire of Japan. Magee was approached in Prince Edward Island by US recruiters where he agreed to become a US Marine pilot.

Magee continued with his aviation training in America until the end of 1942, when he received his Wings of Gold, becoming a Marine Corps fighter pilot. In July 1942, Magee was posted to VMF-124, nicknamed The Black Sheep, flying a Wildcat fighter plane.

On the 18th of September 1944, Magee was tasked with providing cover for naval vessels when he spotted thirty enemy Japanese fighter planes heading straight for the ships below him. He immediately engaged, shooting one Japanese plane down and chasing several more into range of naval anti-aircraft fire. While shooting down a second Japanese plane, his own plane took enemy fire from above, forcing Magee to flee by flying into naval anti-aircraft range. Magee landed with over thirty bullet holes in his plane. For his actions, Magee was recommended the naval cross. 

Excerpt from Christopher Magee's Navy Cross citation:

The president of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First lieutenant Christopher L Magee United States Marine corps.

For extraordinary heroism as a pilot of a fighter plane attached to Marine Fighting Squadron two fourteen operating against Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area from September 12th to October 22nd, 1943. Displaying superb flying ability & fearless intrepidity. First lieutenant Magee participated in numerous strike escorts, task force covers, fighter sweeps, strafing missions & patrols.

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 After the war, Magee returned to his young family in Chicago, the second highest scoring Ace in his squadron having downed nine enemy Japanese fighter planes. In Chicago, Magee got involved in bootlegging and black-market activities for a period before working as a courier for covert American businessmen involved in Latin American politics. 

In 1948, Magee volunteered with the Israeli Air force at the outbreak of the Israeli-Arab war becoming a member of the 101st fighter squadron based at Ekron airbase in Israel. When Magee eventually returned to Chicago, his wife had left with the kids. 

In 1949, Magee was given a construction job establishing Early warning networks for enemy ballistic missile detection near Thule airbase north of the Arctic circle in Greenland.

In the early 1950s, Magee found himself working as a courier in Chicago.

On the 13th of June 1955, Magee strolled into The Reserve Savings and Loan Association in Cicero, Illinois, and pulled a gun on the bank manager forcing him to hand over $2500.00.

On the 13th of August 1956, Magee returned to the same bank, pulling a gun again and taking over $400.00.

On January 15, 1957 Magee robbed the Lincolnway West branch of the National Bank and Trust company of South Bend. For this crime, Magee was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years at Leavenworth maximum security penitentiary. While in prison, Magee achieved eighty college credits via extension courses becoming editor of Leavenworth's prison magazine (New Era).

Magee was released from prison in 1967, returning to Chicago where he worked as a reporter and editor for a local community paper. 

Christopher Magee passed away on the 27th of December 1995 from stomach cancer, receiving a funeral at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Libertyville, Illinois, and a burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,, & danced the skies of laughter-silvered Wings; Sunward I've climbed, & joined the tumbling mirth of sun split clouds,- and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along, & flung my eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,, I've topped the wind swept heights with easy grace,, where never lark nor even eagle flew- And while with silent lifting mind I've tried the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, & touched the face of God.

Written by John Gillespie Magee jr, Royal Canadian air force pilot & cousin of Christopher Magee killed in action on the 11th of December 1941.

*Originally published in February 2022. Updated in November 2023.

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