Sergeant Don M. Kenney in World War Two
Submitted by son-in-law Terry D. McGill firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit: all materials to his widow Marilyn Kenney & her children.
SSGT Donald M. Kenney was a tailgunner with the 487th “Dogface” Squadron 340th Bomb Group. He flew 75 combat missions in B-25s from August 1944 until the end of the war. Like most real combat vets he was always reluctant to speak about his wartime experiences. This narrative is based upon what he told to me and to other family members about those experiences.
Don was born in
His father worked as a
chauffer for a
Don joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 & was trained as an aerial gunner. His first airplane flight was in a B-17 in which he and others were taken up for gunnery practice. His older brother Frank, who was also in the service but was not combat qualified, exhibited a fair bit of jealousy over the fact that his little brother was a real combat airman.
Don recalled flying to South
America and crossing the Atlantic from
Don was sent to
Don in Alesan, Cosica
Don in Alesan, Cosica
B25’s: 9 Z takeoff; 7M and Squadron in flight; Tail Damage -
B25’s: 9 Z takeoff; 7M and Squadron in flight; Tail Damage - tailgunner?
Don once told me that while at the time he would have had no moral problem with flying in the strategic bombers that bombed German cities and killed many civilians, after the war he came to appreciate the fact that all of his missions were tactical ones against military targets. Young kids caught up in the midst of a war to the death did not necessarily have the same qualms that a middle aged man reflecting back 40 years might experience. It was some comfort to him to know that his war was fought strictly against enemy soldiers.
During the rare times that he
discussed the war at all, usually Don would tell a story about something funny
that happened in the barracks or while off duty. One favorite story was about how several of
them went down to a beach in
I asked him if he ever had a chance to fire at any enemy fighters. No, he replied, the Axis air force was very depleted by the time he saw action and American fighter escorts did a good job of keeping them at bay. However he did chuckle when he told me about the only time he actually fired his twin .50 cal. machine guns “in anger”. “We made a Christian out of a P-47 pilot once!” It seems that one of their own escorts had gotten himself into the wrong position behind Don’s B-25 box, an area where any plane was presumed to be German. Don and the other tailgunners let loose with a blast of fire but quickly saw that the target was friendly as the P-47 veered away, fortunately unhurt.
Reading some of the letters Don wrote to his mother reveals a typical glimpse of the life of the World War II American servicemen. Nearly every letter asked for her to write more letters and to send candy. I haven’t heard from you in so long!, he’d complain. Then there would be a letter saying that he had just received a whole stack of letters and packages from her; thanks for the candy! It appears that the mail always got through but
not on a regular basis; mail, like combat action, was a sudden and often times overwhelming experience!
Don and Mom Don and brother Frank
Don and Mom
Don and brother Frank
A typical enlisted man, Don had few good words to say about officers. Most left a very negative impression on him. The exceptions were the pilot officers he flew with. They were the absolute best in his book and he very much appreciated their flying and navigating skills that got him through each mission safely.
One of the best stories told
how after VE Day everybody in the European Theater was eager to get on a plane
and fly back to the States as fast as they could. Except the flyers. They had had their fill of air travel and
were very contented to take their time sailing home in a ship! Don did not fly in an airplane again until
the 1970s when he took his family to
Don survived the war to
Don and Marilyn settled in
Don and Marilyn had four children, Steven, Colleen, Karen and Dale. Don lived to enjoy life with his first six grandchildren born before he died in 1989. They currently have seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren with more on the way. Don never considered himself to be a hero. He was just a regular American who went to war because his country needed him.