Kinney, John, BGen

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Primary MOS
9967-Billet Designator, Helicopter Pilot
Last MOSGroup
Specific Billet MOS
Primary Unit
1959-1959, MSG Detachment Manilla, Phillipines
Service Years
1941 - 1959

Brigadier General


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 Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cpl David R. Evans (D.R.) to remember Marine BGen John Kinney.

If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
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Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address

Date of Passing
Jun 14, 1997
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity
General Kinney, then a Second Lieutenant, arrived on Wake Island with a squadron of 12 Grumman Wildcat fighter planes less than a week before the December 7, 1941, attacks on both Pearl Harbor and Wake Island.

The Japanese air raid on Wake Island's tiny airstrip left only four of the squadron's fighters fit to fly. The unit's engineer and all of its plane mechanics were killed in action.

Lieutenant Kinney flew combat attacks against Japanese warships and supervised repairs as the squadron's replacement engineering officer, keeping the four remaining planes in operation by salvaging parts from destroyed aircraft. On December 11, the island's combined air and shore defenses pushed back an amphibious assault, sinking two destroyers.

Following a second assault and the surrender of the Wake Island garrison on December 23, Lieuenant Kinney became a prisoner of war and was transported to Japan and then to Shanghai. He was interned in Kiangwan Prison from December 1942 to May 1945.

On May 10, 1945, as a train was moving prisoners to another camp, Lieutenant Kinney jumped off and escaped through China, a journey that took 47 days. He was reunited with U.S. troops and arrived home in Washington state on July 29.

"He and four other Marines jumped out of a train and were able to make contact with the Chinese communists, who took care of them and led them through the backwoods of China," said his wife, Bonnie (LaVonne) Heinsen Kinney.

In 1946, he was placed in command of the Marine Corps Aviation Technical School, where he and other instructors built the first jet engine test cell in the Navy. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1949 and attended the Air War College, graduating in 1950.

During the Korean War, he was assigned as operations officer of Marine Air Group 12, which served in Wonsan, Korea, and later in Pusan, Korea. He was instrumental in identifying problems with jet aircraft and flew with his squadron along the Yalu River.

He received the Silver Star for flights in the Yalu River area. He also received the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for service in World War II, and another Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other awards, for service in Korea.

He rose to the rank of Colonel in 1956, and received his helicopter pilot designation the following year. He took command of a helicopter group stationed in Okinawa and the Philippines. In 1959, he retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of Brigadier General.

General Kinney later worked as a test pilot for two aircraft-makers and as an engineer for Lockheed. He retired from Lockheed in 1980.

In 1993, he built his home in Portola Valley, where he lived until 1997. In 1995, he co-wrote a book about his wartime experiences, "Wake Island Pilot: A World War II Memoir."

Other Comments:
General John F. Kinney was a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat pilot assigned to VMF-211 on the pacific outpost of Wake Island in late 1941. He participated in the defense of Wake Island until it fell to Japanese forces in late December. During the defense of Wake Island, then Lt Kinney was responsible for keeping the remaining four F4F-3's operational under very difficult circumstances. Kinney was a prisoner of war for most of World War II until his daring escape and return to allied control in China after 3 years of captivity.

General Kinney flew combat missions during the Korean War. He also participated in the development of Marine Corps jet aviation. Later in his career General Kinney transitioned into helicopters adding to the development of this new aircraft. General Kinney's many awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, thirteen Air Medals, the POW Medal, and the Wake Island Expeditionary Medal.
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  1951-1953, MAG-12

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Lieutenant Colonel
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Korea, South
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Last Updated: Apr 24, 2008
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34 Members Also There at Same Time

Mangrum, Richard, LtGen, (1929-1967) Colonel
Thrash, William G, LtGen, (1939-1972) 8042 Lieutenant Colonel
Miller, Marlin, GySgt, (1942-1952) Gunnery Sergeant
Miller, Marlin, GySgt, (1942-1952) Gunnery Sergeant
Grant, Michael J, TSgt, (1948-1953) Technical Sergeant
LaFrance, Roderick, Sgt Sergeant
Elwood, Hugh, LtGen, (1932-1973) 75 7302 Lieutenant General
Bowman Jr., George Shepard, MGen, (1936-1972) 99 9907 Colonel
Axtell, Geroge, LtGen, (1940-1974) 75 7302 Lieutenant Colonel
Frash, William, Col, (1938-1960) 75 7302 Lieutenant Colonel
Smith, George Ullman, LtCol, (1941-1951) 75 7302 Lieutenant Colonel
Crutchfield, James Henry, Maj, (1941-1951) 75 7302 Major
Nelson, Edwin George, Maj, (1942-1952) 75 7302 Major
Yarberry, Randle, Col 75 7302 Major
Graham, William, Capt, (1948-1971) 30 3060 Captain
McCarson, William Strickland, Capt, (1942-1951) 75 7302 Captain
Barton, Raleigh Edward, 1stLt, (1942-1951) 75 7302 First Lieutenant
Jung, Walter, 1stLt, (1951-1951) 75 7521 First Lieutenant
Cline, Frank, LtCol, (1942-1974) 66 6619 Master Technical Sergeant (Grade 1)
Cooper, Jack, GySgt, (1943-1964) 60 6029 Technical Sergeant
Moore, Paul Puden, GySgt, (1942-1963) 60 6060 Technical Sergeant
Tunney, William, TSgt (Grade 2), (1949-1954) 64 Staff Sergeant
Bogdala, Richard, Sgt, (1953-1958) 1 0111 Sergeant
Burgess, John, Sgt, (1953-1956) 66 6613 Sergeant
Cordas, Joseph, Sgt, (1952-1955) 18 1841 Sergeant
Daiuto, Joseph, Cpl, (1952-1955) 60 6413 Corporal
Jones, Grover D, SSgt, (1950-1953) 13 1345 Corporal
Wilcox, Lee, MGySgt 11 1121 Corporal
Barrett, Robert, GySgt, (1949-1971) 1 0100 Private 1st Class
Batterton, Boeker, BGen Colonel
McAllister, Charles, PFC, (1953-1956) Private 1st Class

Murphree, Thomas E, Col, (1942-1974) 75 7531 Captain
Owens Jr, John Joseph, Cpl, (1948-1952) 13 1372 Private 1st Class

Galer, Robert, BGen, (1936-1957) 99 9907 Colonel
Evans, Donald Edward, SSgt, (1951-1957) 30 3072 Sergeant

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