John Shinn was born on July 23, 1930, in Plainview, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 5, 1951, and was trained as an aircraft mechanic before serving with the 3617th Maintenance Squadron at Craig AFB, Alabama, from February 1951 to March 1952. Shinn entered the Aviation Cadet Program on March 4, 1952, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at James Connally AFB, Texas, on March 16, 1953. After completing All Weather Interceptor training at Moody AFB, Georgia, and RF-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, Lt Shinn served as an RF-80 Shooting Star and RF-86 pilot with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kimpo AB, South Korea, from October 1953 to September 1954, and then flying out of Komaki AB, Japan, from September 1954 to April 1955. His next assignment was as an RF-84 Thunderstreak pilot with the 82nd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Larsen AFB, Washington, from May 1955 to July 1956. Capt Shinn then transferred to the control of Headquarters U.S. Air Force with a paper discharge so he could participate in the CIA U-2 program from July 1956 to December 1960. During this time he became one of only six U-2 pilots to fly operational missions over the Soviet Union. He then served as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer with the 4510th Maintenance and Support Group at Luke AFB, Arizona, from December 1960 to June 1962, followed by service as an instructor pilot with the 45th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Florida, from June to December 1962. Capt Shinn served as an F-84 Thunderjet pilot with the 46th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill from December 1962 to June 1963, and then served in Stan/Eval with the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill from June 1963 to July 1965, during which time he transitioned into the F-4 Phantom II. He flew combat missions with the 47th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed to Southeast Asia from July to November 1965, and then returned to MacDill AFB with the squadron, serving there until November 1969. During this time he attended the University of Tampa through Operation Bootstrap to complete his college degree from June 1968 to June 1969. His next assignment was as an O-2 Milirole Forward Air Controller with the 603rd Direct Air Support Squadron at Osan AB, South Korea, from November 1969 to January 1971. Maj Shinn served as an Operations Officer with the 3640th Pilot Training Wing at Laredo AFB, Texas, from January 1971 to March 1972, and then returned to Southeast Asia as an Airborne Battle Staff Operations Officer aboard the EC-130 Hercules with the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from March 1972 to March 1973. His final assignment was as a Management Analysis Officer with the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from March 1973 until his retirement from the Air Force on February 1, 1975. John Shinn died on August 16, 2009, and was buried at the Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
His 2nd (of 3) Distinguished Flying Cross Citation w/Valor reads:
Captain John C. Shinn, Jr. distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as Aircraft Commander of an F-4C Fighter-Bomber over North Vietnam on 23 September 1965. On that date, Captain Shinn led a flight of fighter aircraft on a strike mission against an ammunition depot deep within hostile territory. Approaching the target area under instrument conditions, Captain Shinn's flight broke into the clear only to encounter two Surface-to-Air Missiles which exploded on the right and left. While courageously holding their attack heading, the flight had to execute a tactical break to avoid a third missile. Not to be deterred by this deadly opposition, Captain Shinn continued to press the attack and delivered his bombs squarely on target. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Shinn reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.