Kane -- Col John R Kane

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

 

John Kane graduated from Baylor University at Waco, Texas, in 1928, with a BA degree. He entered military service in June 1931 as a cadet and learned to fly at Brooks, Randolph, and Kelly Fields, Texas, receiving his rating and commission a year later. He served for a while at Rockwell and March Fields, Calif., went into the Reserves during 1934 and 1935, and returned to active duty in late 1935, with assignment to Barksdale Field, La., eventually becoming base commander there. By April 1940, he was at MacDill Field, Fla., as adjutant and operations officer, and next went to Lackland AFB, Fla. as a squadron commander.

In July 1942, he went to the Middle East Theater, where he flew 43 combat missions for a total of 250 combat hours in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Colonel Kane commanded the 98th Bomb Group's B-24 Liberators, called the Pyramiders, and his own daring operations caused the Luftwaffe intelligence summaries to dub him "Killer Kane."

On one hazardous mission he earned the Silver Star in his deadly B-24 bomber. During a mission in the Middle East his plane became separated from all other aircraft in the formation and was attacked from the rear by an enemy pursuit plane. Although the tail and top turrets of the bomber became inoperative, Colonel Kane so successfully maneuvered his aircraft as to outmaneuver the attacking enemy ME-110 through eight different attacks and to force the attacking plane to exhaust all its ammunition and to even actually break off its attack without any appreciable damage being suffered by his own aircraft. Colonel Kane led his Pyramiders as one of the five major elements and bomb groups against the all-important Ploesti oil refineries on Aug. 1, 1943, and for destroying the number one target in the complex received the Medal of Honor.

En route to the target, which called for a round-trip flight of over 2,400 miles, Colonel Kane's element became separated from the leading portion of the massed formation in avoiding dense and dangerous cumulous cloud conditions over mountainous terrain. Rather than turn back from such a vital mission he elected to proceed to his target. Upon arrival at the target area it was discovered that another group had apparently missed its target and then bombed the area assigned to Colonel Kane's 98th Bomb Group. Despite the thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive anti-aircraft fire, enemy fighter planes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed-action bombs from the earlier element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area, Colonel Kane elected to lead his formation against the blazing area.

The Medal of Honor awarded him states, in part: "...By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership; and superior flying skill, he and the formation under his command successfully attacked this vast refinery so essential to our enemies' war effort . . . he personally contributed vitally to the success of this daring mission and thereby rendered most distinguished service in the furtherance of the defeat of our enemies."

Colonel Kane returned to the United States in February 1944, as Base Commander of Gowan Field, Idaho. He held the same position at McCook and Grand Island Army Air Fields in Neb. He graduated from the National War College in June 1947., and became Base Executive Officer at Chanute Field, Ill. In April 1948, he was made Director of Technical Schools at Lowry AFB, Colo., and also served there as Inspector General and commander of the 3415th Maintenance and Supply Group. He went to Ladd AFB, Alaska in 1949, being successively Chief of Staff and Base Commander. In July 1951, Colonel Kane was commander of MATS' Air Resupply and Communications Service, forming its 580th Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho in November 1951, which he commanded. He took it to Libya in August 1952 and moved to Morocco the following May as Commander of the 316th Air Division's 549th Air Control and Warning Group. He returned to the United States again in December 1953, as Commander of Smoky Hill AFB, Kan., where he served until he resigned and was honorably discharged May 10, 1954.

See the
full citation at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.