Last Known Activity
Kenneth A. Bennett was born in Iowa on July 19, 1924. He was a son of Andrew William and Minnie E. Sidewell Bennett. Both the US Censuses 1930 and 1940 show the family in Iowa City, Iowa.
The date Bennett enlisted in the military has not been located, but judging from his age, assignments, and census reports, late 1943 or early 1944 would probably be accurate. He was trained as an aerial gunner, and deployed to England in October, 1944 where he was assigned as an original member of the combat crew led by Lt Wertz.
He flew 20 missions, presumably all with this crew, the first being on December 9, 1944.
On February 16, 1945, the target was designated as the synthetic oil plant at Langerdreer, Germany. In spite of intense and accurate flak, the formation bombed the secondary target. On the bomb run, the Wertz aircraft was struck by a flak burst, directly on #1 engine. The engine fell off the wing, dropped back and impacted the fuselage at the waist window, tearing a large gap in the fuselage.
The aircraft dropped out of formation, and was lagging behind, but seemingly, under control. Later, it crashed in the vicinity of Klieve, Germany. Three crew members were killed in the crash; the rest survived to become POWs.
The body of Kenneth Bennett was recovered after the war and returned to the U.S. for burial. He was buried in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery at Minneapolis, Minnesota at Section C-7, Site 8717 on November 20, 1950.
On September 2, 1998, in a special ceremony, he was awarded posthumously the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
Interment Control Records, National Cemeteries
Sgt Kenneth A. Bennett was the assigned tail gunner on B-17G #43-39081, unnamed, assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 12437 was issued for this incident, and mission loading lists show the crew for this mission was:
1 Lt Robert M. Wertz p
2 Lt Melvin A. Durst c-p
2 Lt Karl Minnis nav
TSgt John B. Price tog
TSgt Ralph W. Warne eng/tt gun
TSgt Edward J. Giering r/o
SSgt Kenneth E. Jensen btg
SSgt Walter C. Campbell wg
Sgt Kenneth A. Bennett tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Price, Warne, and Bennett were the crew members killed.
In the crew photo, Sgt Bennett is in the back row, 3rd from left.