George Kenney

George Churchill Kenney (August 6, 1889 – August 9, 1977) was a United States Army general during World War II. He is best known as the commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), a position he held between August 1942 and 1945.

George Kenney
General George C. Kenney
Birth nameGeorge Churchill Kenney
Born(1889-08-06)August 6, 1889
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedAugust 9, 1977(1977-08-09) (aged 88)
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, U.S.
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Years of service
  • 1917–1947 (Army)
  • 1947–1951 (Air Force)
Rank General
Service number0–8940
Commands held

Kenney enlisted as a flying cadet in the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps in 1917, and served on the Western Front with the 91st Aero Squadron. He was awarded a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for actions in which he fought off German fighters and shot two down. After hostilities ended he participated in the Occupation of the Rhineland. Returning to the United States, he flew reconnaissance missions along the border between the US and Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. Commissioned into the Regular Army in 1920, he attended the Air Corps Tactical School, and later became an instructor there. He was responsible for the acceptance of Martin NBS-1 bombers built by Curtis, and test flew them. He also developed techniques for mounting .30 caliber machine guns on the wings of an Airco DH.4 aircraft.

In early 1940, Kenney became Assistant Military Attaché for Air in France. As a result of his observations of German and Allied air operations during the early stages of World War II, he recommended significant changes to Air Corps equipment and tactics. In July 1942, he assumed command of the Allied Air Forces and Fifth Air Force in General Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area. Under Kenney's command, the Allied Air Forces developed innovative command structures, weapons, and tactics that reflected Kenney's orientation towards attack aviation. The new weapons and tactics won perhaps his greatest victory, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, in March 1943. Two other significant bombing raids that ultimately led to complete air supremacy in the New Guinea campaign, at Wewak (174 planes destroyed) in August 1943 and at Hollandia (400 planes destroyed) in March to April 1944, also were due to Kenney and his command. In June 1944 he was appointed commander of the Far East Air Forces (FEAF), which came to include the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Seventh Air Forces.

In April 1946, Kenney became the first commander of the newly formed Strategic Air Command (SAC), but his performance in the role was criticized, and he was shifted to become commander of the Air University, a position he held from October 1948 until his retirement from the Air Force in September 1951.

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