Change text size: + Larger | - Smaller

Veterans Stories

John Robert Kennedy (Jack), Co-Pilot 846th/847th

(Mark Osborne crew)

Jack Kennedy spent only a short time at Halesworth in 1944 (between June-August) but he returned in 1990 for a Second Air Division reunion with the 489th Bomb Group.

Jack said he only had 2 months and 2 days in the 489th Bomb Group, flew 24 missions over France and Germany before being shot down near Hamburg, Germany.

On 6 August 1944, Glenn Miller and his band played in a hangar on Halesworth Airfield and many people remember this occasion. However, on that same day, 6 August 1944, the Osborne crew of the 489th were shot down over Germany. Co-Pilot Jack Kennedy wrote of this experience in the ‘George Field News’ in July 1995. He sent a copy of this for the 489th archive and this is reproduced here:

The “Longest Mission”

A trip down memory lane

During April 1995, Mary Ann, my wife and I joined a group of American X POW’s of WWII to revisit the POW camp areas we had spent time as a POW in Germany.

I was a POW from August 6, 1944 to April 29, 1945 and was in three camps. Stalag Luft III, Stalag XIII D, and Stalag VII A

Stalag Luft III was located 100 miles S.E. of Berlin near Sagan, now in Poland, and was operated by the Luftwaffe German Air Force, for downed British and American Airmen. The “Great Escape” where 76 POWs used tunnel “Harry” over 300 feet long, to gain freedom, ended in tragedy. Fifty of the escapees were killed by the Gestapo after they were recaptured. A revisit was always one of my dreams to see the special memorial built in remembrance of these 50 POWs. To walk the area of the camp where I was over 50 years ago, to see the sunken ground where the tunnel “Exit and Entrance” once was, and to ride the same roads we walked for 6 days in January 1945 during a blizzard, to visit the brick factory, the only warm place we stayed in until we reached Spremberg, where we boarded box cars to ride to Nuremberg. Now this part of my dream was complete.

Stalag XIII was located just outside Nuremberg, Germany. Here we looked down upon a new city from the roof of a 16 story building upon the area that was once the POW camp. I remember the cold, hungry and vermin filled days and nights we spent in this camp. Early April 1945 we walked again to a new camp, but in much warmer weather. In 1995 we rode the same roads again, stopping in Gammelsdorf, Germany, to revisit the area where we stayed in barns and farm houses for a few days before continuing our march. To revisit the Catholic Church, where I attended Mass in April 1945. What memories after 50 years!

Stalag VII A, was located near the city of Moosburg, NE of Munich, Germany. On April 29, 1945, elements of the 14th Armored Division of Patton’s 3rd Army attacked the SS Troops guarding Stalag VIIA and the first American tank entered the camp. We were liberated, free at last. Now again in April 1995 we were standing at the entrance to the camp, now a park. Nearby two of the original buildings are still in use, but showing their wear. After the mayor of Moosburg and X POWs of France and America gave speeches, thanking everyone and expressing their friendship, since we were liberated 50 years ago, we listened to the German band play the national anthems of France, USA and Germany. Most of those present had tears in their eyes.

All remembered that time long ago, but happy that we were among the few who are so lucky to return and who have completed their dream.

The “Longest Mission” is now complete

John “Jack” R Kennedy

George Field, Class 44-A

Jack was married in December 1945 to Mary Ann. Many years later he wrote,

‘How I met my wife’

On December 24, 1943, I met a very cute girl at the Cadet Club who invited me to midnight mass and Christmas dinner.
After graduation on January 7, 1944, I was attached to the 489th Bomb Group 8th Air Force in England. August 6, 1944 the B-24 I was flying was shot out of the sky near Hamburg, Germany on our 24th mission. The next nine months was spent as a POW in Stalag Luft III.
On December 29, 1945, this same cute girl (Mary Ann) and I were married. We have Four Children.
Today after retirement from Civil Service as an engineer for the US Government, we live in that same home that I remembered so well from that Christmas Day in 1943.

John “Jack” R Kennedy


Back to Veterans-Stories