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b. 05/01/1907 McGregor, Texas.  d. 29/05/1996 Pennsylvania.


DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/08/1943 Ploiesti, Romania.


Born in January 1907 in McGregor, Texas, Kane grew up in Wichita Falls. His father, John Franklin Kane, was a Baptist minister. He then moved to Munich, Germany.


Kane attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he played basketball and football. On January 22, 1927, he was traveling with the basketball team to a game when their bus was struck by a train in Round Rock, Texas, killing 10 of the 22 people aboard; Kane escaped with minor injuries. Those killed became known as the "Immortal Ten", and a homecoming ceremony in their memory has become a Baylor tradition. Kane graduated in 1928 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.


Kane married Pansy Inabnett of Shreveport; the couple had one child, John Franklin Kane II. Kane moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, and joined the United States Army Air Corps (later the United States Army Air Forces) as an aviation cadet in June 1931. By April 1940, he was assigned to MacDill Field in Florida as an operations officer and then commanded a squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. In July 1942, he was sent to the Mediterranean Theatre of War, where he flew 43 combat missions for a total of 250 combat hours in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Kane commanded the 98th Bombardment Group, a B-24 Liberator unit nicknamed the "Pyramiders", and his daring operations caused German intelligence reports to dub him "Killer Kane."


Returning to the United States in February 1944, Kane commanded Gowen Field in Idaho followed by McCook and Grand Island Army Airfields in Nebraska. He graduated from the National War College in June 1947 and became the executive officer at Chanute Field in Illinois. In July 1951, Kane was commander of the Military Air Transport Service's Air Resupply And Communications Service, forming its 580th Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, 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 in December 1953, as commander of Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas, where he served until he resigned and was honorably discharged on May 10, 1954.


Kane retired to a farm in Logan County, Arkansas, but moved to Pennsylvania in 1987 to be near his son.




For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943. On this date he led the third element of heavy bombardment aircraft in a mass low-level bombing attack against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries. En route to the target, which necessitated a round-trip flight of over 2,400 miles, Col. 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 had previously attacked and damaged the target assigned to Col. Kane's element. Despite the thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area, Col. Kane elected to lead his formation into the attack. 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. Through his conspicuous gallantry in this most hazardous action against the enemy, and by his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Col. Kane 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.



Section 7A, Grave 47

John Riley Kane










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