Mort Magoffin was born on February 1, 1916, in Deerwood, Minnesota. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1933, and graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt of Infantry on June 12, 1937. Lt Magoffin completed flight training and was awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on October 20, 1937. His first assignment was as a pursuit pilot in Hawaii, where he served until December 1942 when he returned to the U.S. and joined the 326th Fighter Group. Maj Magoffin transferred to the 359th Fighter Group in January 1943, and then served as commander of the 362nd Fighter Group from March 1943 until he was forced to bail out over France and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 10, 1944. Col Magoffin was liberated from a hospital in Paris in September 1944, and then returned to the U.S. for treatment of his injuries. During World War II, Col Magoffin was credited with the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 damaged, all while flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. After the war, he served as Director of Plans and Operations with Headquarters Alaskan Air Command at Fort Richardson, Alaska, until November 1947, and then as commander of the 57th Fighter Group at Fort Richardson from November 1947 to January 1949. Col Magoffin served as deputy commander of the 57th Fighter Wing at Fort Richardson from January to March 1949, followed by Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from July 1949 to July 1950. His next assignment was on the staff at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from July 1950 to May 1952, and then on the planning group for the Inspector General of the Air Force from May to September 1952. Col Magoffin next served as commander of the Air Base Defense School at Parks AFB, California, from September 1952 to January 1955, followed by service as commander of the 6171st Air Base Wing, commander of the 6147th Tactical Control Group, and deputy commander of the 314th Air Division in South Korea from February 1955 to January 1956. His final assignment was as executive officer of the 3535th Navigator Training Wing at Mather AFB, California, from January 1956 to August 1957. He was then hospitalized at Parks AFB, California, from August 1957 until he was medically retired from the Air Force on March 18, 1958. Mort Magoffin died on July 10, 2007.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy, 13 July 1944, while leading his fighter squadron on a combat mission. On this date, Colonel Magoffin was returning to a beachhead air strip in France with his supply of gasoline almost exhausted, when he observed a flight of FW 190 German fighter planes in front and 1,000 feet above him. Regardless of the odds against him, Colonel Magoffin unhesitatingly signaled for one of his flight leaders to join him in engaging the enemy and ordered the remainder of the squadron to continue to the beachhead. In the ensuing combat, Colonel Magoffin, displaying great skill and courage, destroyed two of the enemy planes while his wing pilot accounted for two more. At this time a direct hit from a 20 MM shell badly crippled the plane operated by Colonel Magoffin's companion, causing it to fly at a reduced rate of speed and at low altitude in the face of heavy flak and small arms fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Colonel Magoffin drew attention from the damaged plane by dangerously exposing himself as a target. Although his plane was hit repeatedly and his engine failed just as he reached the airstrip, he succeeded in landing safely. The extraordinary heroism and outstanding leadership displayed by Colonel Magoffin on this occasion reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.