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John Riley Kane


John Riley Kane (January 5, 1907 – May 29, 1996) was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage and heroism on Operation Tidal Wave, leading his bomb group and successfully bombing his assigned target, the Astra Romano Refinery at Ploesti Rumania, on Aug. 1, 1943

A native of Texas, Kane joined the Army Air Corps after graduating from Baylor University. In WWII in July 1942, he was sent to the Mediterranean Theater of War where he flew 43 combat missions against shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and over Italian ports for a total of 250 combat hours in Africa, the Middle East, and, later, Europe.

In North Africa, Kane commanded the 98th Bombardment Group, a B-24 Liberator unit nicknamed the "Pyramiders". His daring flying operations caused German intelligence reports to dub him "Killer Kane."

Kane earned the Silver Star during a mission when his plane became separated from the formation and was attacked from the rear by an enemy fighter. Although the tail and top turrets of his bomber became inoperative, he successfully outmaneuvered the pursuing ME-110 through eight different attacks. The fighter eventually exhausted its ammunition and was forced to break off the attack without causing any appreciable damage to Kane's aircraft.

Kane was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the 98th Bomb Group in Operation Tidal Wave, the low altitude attack mission on oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. After the war, he commanded a series of airfields in the U.S. and served a year and a half in North Africa before his retirement.



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    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
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    Military | Major | B-24 Command Bomber Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
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  • Norman Whalen

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    Military | Major | B-24 Command Bomber Pilot | 376th Bomb Group
    Lieutenant John S. Young from Dallas Texas was a WWII B-24D Liberator bomber pilot with the 9th Air Force, the "Force For Freedom", the 98th Bomb Group the, "Pyramiders", and the 344th Bombing Squadron, based at Cairo, Egypt, Tobruk, and Benghazi,...

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Units served with

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic...

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 9th Air Force


  • 42-40402 The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    Crew of "The Sandman" on the Ploesti raid: ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    This aircraft originally served in the 344th BS as 'HAIL COLUMBIA'. It was 344th CO Col. John R. Kane's personal aircraft until Kane became 98th BG CO and turned it over to Herman "Big-Dog" Lewis. Lewis changed the right side nose art to 'LITTLE-CHIEF...


  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B24Ds that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born McGregor, TX, USA 5 January 1907

January 5, 1907. McGregor, Texas, USA.

Operation Tidal Wave Ploiești, Romania 1 August 1943

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the 98th in Operation Tidal Wave, a low-altitude attack on oil refineries in Ploieşti, Romania.

Died Veteran's Administration Nursing Home, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA 29 May 1996

May 29, 1996. Veterans Administration nursing home, Pennsylvania, USA.


Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, USA.


Date Contributor Update
25 December 2018 03:17:14 Kickapoo Changes to role

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
25 December 2018 03:15:49 Kickapoo Changes to role, biography, person associations, unit associations and place associations

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
30 August 2018 16:11:24 Emily Changes to role, biography, events and unit associations

Minor edits to biography text and events

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2018 08:25:13 Kickapoo Changes to unit associations

Operation Tidal Wave

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2018 08:07:16 Kickapoo Changes to middlename and media associations

Operation Tidal Wave

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2018 09:59:27 Kickapoo Changes to role and biography

U.S. Air Force Archives

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2018 09:54:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography

United States Air Force Archive

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2018 09:35:08 Kickapoo Changes to awards

Operation Tidal Wave

Date Contributor Update
06 April 2015 16:39:34 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, aircraft associations and mission associations