Service: USAAF, 10th Air Force, 493rd Bomber Squadron, 7th Bomb Group, Heavy
Service #: 0-726034
Hometown: Garland, Tennessee
Original MIA Report: 14 November 1943, Bombardier on B-24J #42-73059, MACR #1108, “Werner’s Crew”
Date of Death: 17 December 1943 as POW in Rangoon Central Jail, buried in Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart
John C. Kelley was from the small rural community of Garland, Tennessee. He was the 9th of eleven children born into a farming family. John was an excellent athlete, playing both baseball and football. Kelley attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a football scholarship before he was called to war.
Lt. Kelley was a bombardier for a B-24 crew. He was originally placed with Goad’s Crew and stayed with them all the way from their crew training in the states until October 1943. John was ill and hospitalized the day his original crew was shot down, October 14, 1943.
On November 14, 1943, Lt. Kelley went up with a crew piloted by Maj. Wesley Werner. This crew was shot down, badly burned and captured by the Japanese. Kelley then became a POW at Rangoon Central Jail.
Kelley died from his burns and the lack of medical treatment on December 17, 1943. His body was placed in a rice sack and buried in the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery. His remains were exhumed and placed on board the C-47 with the others.
For more information on Lt. John C. Kelley please visit the website created in his honor. www.johnckelley.wordpress.com
Relatives active in the C-47 recovery efforts:
Sue Krall (Niece) – Avon, Ohio
Leslie Kelley Roane (Grand-Niece) – Burlison, Tennessee
Theta Kelley Rone (Niece) – Burlison, Tennessee