ByJayne Jang Belz Email the author February 11, 2011
Coronado is geared up and ready to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation
talk of the town as many look forward to seeing over 180 aircraft fly above.
Celebrating this centennial allows us to congratulate the Navy on its achievement in
our veterans who flew in past wars.
Coronado is home to many of those veterans. One is Coronado native
91 next month, grew up on the island, graduated from Coronado High School, attended San Diego State
very familiar with Navy life. He served in the Navy Reserve before attending flight training and his father was a naval officer.
As a pilot who loves the air, Kenney laughs as he talks about being able to relate destroyer while in the reserves.
Desiring to fly in the service, Kenney requested flight training as soon as the opportunity arose.
“I immediately put in for flight training to both the Navy and the Army. And I got a telegram from the Army saying I got accepted,” he said. He did get accepted into the Navy program too. Why did he go with the Army then?
Kenney said with a smile that he went He wanted to fly as soon as he could. Kenney retired as a colonel with the Air Force. (In September of 1947, the Army Air Forces became the U.S. Air Force own branch and partner with the Army and Navy.) Retired Aviator and Former POW Has Strong Ties to Coronado - Corona...
John H.Kenney stayed at the camp until Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and his 3rd Army liberated everyone. Kenney said the sound of the American tank rolling in was the best sound he had ever heard—it still holds that No. 1 spot today. When he returned to the United States, Kenny received a Purple Heart for the injuries and bad burns he sustained after being shot down.
Though those two years are certainly not the fondest memories Kenney has of his flying career, he looks forward to reliving his aviation days as he watches past planes fly in the Parade of Flight tomorrow.
Make sure to watch the video of Kenney talking about his interrogation and time as a POW. And for aviation lovers, there is also a video of him recounting a memorable dogfight.
allied airmen who were shot down. The Hollywood movie The Great Escape is based on allied POWs’ famous escape from this camp.
Kenney stayed at the camp until Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and his 3rd Army liberated everyone. Kenney said the sound of the American tank rolling in was the best sound he had ever heard—it still holds that No. 1 spot today.
When he returned to the United States, Kenny received a Purple Heart for the injuries and bad burns he sustained after eing shot down. Though those two years are certainly not the fondest memories Kenney has of his flying career, he looks forward to reliving his aviation days as he watches past planes fly in the Parade of Flight tomorrow.
Make sure to watch the video of Kenney talking about his interrogation and time as a POW. And for aviation lovers, there is
Are you planning on watching the Parade of Flight too?T
Retired Aviator and Former POW Has Strong Ties to Coronado - Corona...
His birthdays had occurred in a variety of locations over the past nine decades – in Coronado as a young boy; on the Queen Mary headed to war; in the cockpit of a P-38 over Italy; and on a forced march through snow and ice while the reluctant guest of Adolf Hitler at Stalag Luft III—a POW camp
for allied pilots, run by German pilots.
Col. Dick Kenney had survived it all, and recently treated his closest friends and family to a celebratory 91st birthday breakfast at Coronado Yacht Club
“I don’t want any publicity … no photographs, no presents and no publicity,” he growled in the days leading up to his birthday.
Undaunted by his bluster, friends and family enjoyed a morning that included breakfast, cake, singing, lots of birthday cards and a handful of thoughtful presents. They got no complaints from the colonel.
Several of the gifts reflected Kenney’s time piloting the P-38 fighter over the skies of Africa, Italy and Germany during World War II.
The P-38 was an incredible airplane
, used for long-range bombing, reconnaissance missions and feared as a fighter in both the Pacific and Atlantic theatres of war.
Because of the plane’s unusual profile – twin booms framing a lone pilot and fuselage - the Luftwaffe nicknamed it the “fork-tailed devil,” the Japanese nickname for it translated as, “two planes, one pilot.”
Col. Kenney flew the P-38 fiercely through the skies over Europe, logging four confirmed kills before being forced down twice in flames. He was fortunate to walk away, although his second walk found him in Stalag Luft III, a POW camp that inspired the book and film, The Great Escape
Perhaps the biggest surprise for Col. Kenney came on the eve of his birthday when he received a telephone call from a retired serviceman. The man brought news that Kenney might be eligible for a third Purple Heart because of the forced march he endured in 1945 from Stalag Luft III deep into the heart of the collapsing Third Reich.
The Germans wanted to keep the allied pilots out of the hands of the encroaching Russian army so 10,000 POWs were forced to march in the dead of winter during the worst storm in 50 years.
The caller also identified a handful of other survivors from Stalug Luft III and is forwarding a list to Kenney in the hope he can locate a lost friend. Submitted by Joe Ditler of Part-time PR