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Sponsored obituary: Lt. Col. Joe W. Kennedy

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Joe W. Kennedy of Lake Wildwood, age 85, passed away Tuesday March 7, 2006 in Grass Valley, California of heart related problems.

Born August 2, 1920 to Joe Murphy Kennedy and Willie Jane Gibson-Kennedy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Joe moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1937 with his family. Joe worked in the summers at Weyerhauser where his father Joe Murphy Kennedy was head saw filer. Joe graduated from Klamath Union High School in 1939.

He attended the University of Oregon where he was an active member of Phi Kappa Psi. Joe earned his private pilot’s license while at U of O in the Civilian Pilot Training Program.



With the onset of World War II, he began his military career as a Pilot Cadet, class 43-D-4 at Mather Field, California and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in April 1943. He was an instructor pilot at Marana Field, Tucson Arizona where he met Dorothy Mae Cummings. They were married on March 3, 1944. He then transitioned into piloting B-25’s and flew bombing missions over Japan. Throughout the Korean War he piloted B-47’s while stationed at Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire. In August 1957, he began fl ying B-52’s with the 70th Bombardment Wing, Loring AFB, Maine; as Aircraft Commander he flew many 24 hour national defense missions. In 1959, Joe transferred to the 334th Bomb Squadron, Biggs AFB, Texas where he continued to fly B-52s. Joe and his “Select” crew participated in international bomb competitions where they received high honors for their excellence including a 1960 fi rst place crew navigation award. In 1966, he departed for his fi rst tour in Vietnam. Flying C-130’s, he was Mission Commander for 294 combat missions with a total of 337 combat fl ying hours. Immediately following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Joe was stationed at Mather AFB, California where he commanded the 441st Bomb Squadron. In 1969, Joe deployed to Vietnam as a B-52 Staff Pilot. Upon return to the United States, he was stationed at Castle AFB, California as the 93rd Bomber Wing, Alert Force Commander.

Lt. Colonel Joe W. Kennedy retired on the 31st of August 1974. Over the course of his career he fl ew a total of 10,300 fl ight hours, with over 465 hours in combat. He was awarded four Air Medals, three Air Force Commendation Medals and numerous additional awards for his meritorious service. During the course of his U.S. Air Force career he instructed in the: PT-22, PT-17, BT-13, AT-6, UC-78 and piloted the B-25, C-47, C-54, B-29, B-47, B-52 and C-130. In his spare time Joe enjoyed hunting, fi shing, golf, and politics.




He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Dorothy M. Kennedy of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, California; their 3 children; Michael Kennedy of Klamath Falls, Oregon, Lynn Repich of Chandler, Arizona, and Keith Kennedy of Gardnerville, Nevada, as well as 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. In addition he is survived by his sister Virginia Kennedy-Ericsson of Bakersfield, California and his brother Glenn Kennedy of Kennewick, Washington.

Graveside services will be at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona on April 28th (480) 513-3600. Donations can be made in memory to the Air Force Association’s Aerospace Education Foundation, http://www.aef.org or 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209. Lt. Col. Joe W. Kennedy


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