1st Lieutenant John C. Kelley

1st Lt John C Kelley

1st Lieutenant John C. Kelley served in the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 493rd Bombardment Squadron in the China-India-Burma Theater of World War II. 

John volunteered for service in January, 1942, and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant after completion of the training course for bombardiers.  He later was awarded his 1st Lieutenant’s bars.  He accomplished over 355 hours of flight action against the enemy serving as bombardier on a B-24, and was awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart. 

On November 14, 1943,  John and his crew were shot down by Japanese over Burma.  John received extensive burns in the crash and was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in the Rangoon Prisoner of War Camp.  Due to the burns received in the crash and the lack of proper medical care, John died approximately one month later on December 17, 1943.  He was buried in a makeshift cemetery by fellow American prisoners.

On May 17, 1946, after the war had ended, crews from the American Graves Registration Service were dispatched to Rangoon, Burma to exhume the remains of the fallen American POW’s and return them to the U.S.  It was the goal of that crew to bring the remains to Calcutta, India.  But that was to never be accomplished. The C-47 carrying 3 man crew, 8 passengers and 39 bodies of fallen POW’s disappeared only 55 minutes away from their destination.

John never made it home.  Neither did the other 49 men on that plane.

This is our search for John.

 Please view the pages of this website for more in-depth information into our search for answers regarding our fallen soldier. 

If you have any information that may assist us in our research, see an error in our information, or have a connection with any of the men with which John may have served, please contact us (using the form below). 

We are always pleased to hear from those who may have known John.

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“Most of them were boys when they died.  They gave up two lives – the one they were living and the one they would have lived.  When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers.  They gave up their chance to be revered old men.  They gave up everything for their country, for us.  All we can do is remember.” 
President Ronald W. Reagan
Veterans Day – Arlington National Cemetery – November 11, 1985


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Published on March 29, 2009 at 7:16 am  Comments Off on 1st Lieutenant John C. Kelley