James Sullins ‘Sully’ Varnell Jr.  was born in Columbus, Georgia, the son of James Sullins Varnell and Elizabeth Lee “Bess” Godsey.

He enlisted in the Air Corps on 28 March 1942 at Chattanooga, TN. He died non battle in a flying accident in Pinellas, Florida. He was a fighter pilot in the European Theater of Operations stationed in Italy.

The Knoxville Journal, April 11, 1945
Cleveland, Tenn., April 10. Capt. James (Sully) Varnell of Charlexton, Tenn., Tenenssee’s ace of the present war, was reported killed in a plane crash in Florida yesterday, according to a telegram received today by his mothers, Mrs. Bess Varnell, of Charleston.
Captain Varnell had 17 German planes to his credit when he returned home last October. He held the Silver Star, Distinguished FLying Cross and the Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters for service as a Mustang fighter pilot in the Mediterranean theater.
Besides his mother, survivors include two sisters, Lt. Betty Varnell of the WAVE’s and Mrs. Tommy Randolph of Hastings, Neb.

  • Rank: Captain
  • Date of birth:
  • 9 December 1921
  • Date of death: 9 April 1945
  • County: Bradley
  • Hometown: Charleston
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 15th Air Force
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Calhoun Community Cemetery, Calhoun, McMinn County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar VII, Top Panel
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