JOHN RILEY KANE (1907 ~ 1996). Medal of Honor Recipient John R. Kane was born in McGregor, Texas, on January 5, 1907. Kane graduated from Baylor University in 1928 and entered military service in 1931 as an aviation cadet. He moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1933.
In 1942 he flew 43 bombing missions over Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with such daring that German Luftwaffe intelligence dubbed him "Killer" Kane. By 1943, Kane was promoted to Colonel and a pilot with the 98th Bombardment Group of the 9th Air Force (known as the "Pyramiders") in North Africa.
On August 1, 1943, he led the third element of the raid on oil refineries located in Ploesti, Romania. En route to Ploesti, Kane's group was separated from the rest of the formation. Kane continued the mission without the planned element of surprise. Kane and his bomber group arrived at a target with enemy anti-aircraft gunners alerted and awaiting them. He circled above the target in full view of enemy gunners so that he could direct the attack and ensure the destruction of the refineries. His plane was hit more than 20 times and lost an engine by the time Kane left the target area. Circling above the target used fuel needed for the long flight back to North Africa, forcing Kane to crash land in Cyprus. For his actions to lead his formation and complete the mission, Kane was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which was presented to him on September 7, 1943, in Cairo, Egypt.
After the war, Kane served as Base Commander at Gowan Field, Idaho, and later in the same position at McCook and Grand Island Army Air Fields in Nebraska. He was Base Executive Officer at Chanute Field after graduating from the National War College in 1947. Kane served as director of Technical Schools at Lowry Air Force Base in 1948, and also served as Inspector General and commander of the 3415th Maintenance and Supply Group. He served as Chief of Staff and Base Commander at Ladd Air Force Base in Alaska until 1951, when he took command of MATS Air Resupply and Communications Service, forming the 580th Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
Kane moved the unit to Libya in August 1952 and then to Morocco the next May. He returned to the United States in 1953 to serve as Commander of Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas, where he remained wntil his retirement in May 1954. Kane settled on a farm in Arkansas with his wife, Phyllis. After her death in 1987 he moved to Pennsylvania to be close to his only son, John, and his wife, Donna.
Kane died at age 89 on May 29, 1996 while living at a Veterans Administration nursing home in Pennsylvania. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Air Force Historical Studies Office, http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/PopTopics/MOH-bios/Kane.html, October 10, 2005. Arlington National Cemetery, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/jrkane.htm, September 26, 2002. USAF Museum, http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/wwii/ce9.htm, October 17, 2005. WW2 Allied Aviation Federation, http://ww2aaf.org/briefing/ce12.htm, October 17, 2005.