KENNEDY, LEO JOSEPH, Staff Sergeant, # 20121837, USAAF
Leo J. Kennedy was born in 1917 in Fall River, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, to Michael Anthony Kennedy (1893-1970) and Elizabeth A. (Lockett) Kennedy (1894-1946) (married 1916, Fall River, MA). Sibling was Kenneth Michael Kennedy (1919-2002), Mildred Elizabeth (Kennedy) Dube (1921-1998), Russell Francis Kennedy (1925-1998), Shirley Rita (Kennedy) Mendonca (1927-1996), Dorothy Eileen (Kennedy) Girard (1931-1995). Living with them in 1930 were kin, May Guertin (1904- ) and Leo E. Guertin (1903-1990). He was married to Cornelia Ann (McMeen) Kennedy (1922-2003) on 2 April 1942 in Maricopa Co., Arizona, while stationed at Luke Field, 551st School Squadron, Phoenix, Maricopa Co., Arizona.
He enlisted in the USAAF at Fort Banks, Boston, Massachusetts, on 25 September 1941. He was trained to maintain and shoot the .50 caliber machineguns and the other weapons (armorer-gunner) on the B-24 Liberator. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India and China. On 15 September 1943 a B-24J Liberator, “Daisy May,” # 41-24218, assigned to 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 373rd Bomb Squadron, Yangkai, China, departed the airfield to bomb Haiphong, French Indochina (Annam or Vietnam). The flight of five of seven B-24s (two were unable to take off) were to bomb the cement plant. Planners were unaware of enemy fighters that had been brought in and were nearby. The B-25s had no fighter cover and were attacked by about 50 enemy fighters over Haiphong at about 8,000’ altitude. A crew reported that they saw 41-24218 going down in a spin, its bomb bay door close, and no parachutes were seen. Capt. Don B. Smith, 0-793188 reported that he saw the B-24 flip inverted and crash into the Gulf of Tonkin. There was an explosion when it impacted the water. The body of TSgt Pershke was recovered by French who saw the crash. The rest of the formation parted and dropped their bombs in the Gulf of Tonkin to improve their chances of escaping the many enemy fighters. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
His brother, Kenneth M. Kennedy, born 14 November 1919, served in the U.S. Army, Technician 5th Grade, from 16 September 1940 to 29 October 1945.
He died 11 April 2002
His brother, Russell F. Kennedy, born 30 August 1925, served in the U.S. Navy from 30 August 1943 to 14 January 1946. He died 10 July 1998.