From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Kelley '38

Date of birth: March 4, 1916

Date of death: November 11, 1943

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:


John was lost when his F6F-3 Hellcat was shot down near Segi, Solomon Islands, on November 11, 1943. He was the executive officer of Fighting Squadron (VF) 33, operating from USS Independence (CVL 22).

His wife was listed as next of kin.


From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

  • Designated Naval Aviator # 7185, 2/25/1941
  • of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • VF-6 USS Enterprise (CV-6), 12/7/1941
  • Date of rank LT from 1 Jul 1942 USN Register, 6/15/1942
  • NAOTC VF OTU -1 NAAS Green Cove Springs, 7/8/1942
  • VF-33 (XO) Ondongo New Georgia PH KIA, 11/11/1943
  • Date of rank LCDR from 1 Jul 1944 USN Register, 6/15/1942 Note this was AFTER was missing

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander John C. Kelley (NSN: 0-81238), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Executive Officer of Fighting Squadron THIRTY-THREE (VF-33), in the Pacific area from September to November 1943. Lieutenant Commander Kelley led his division against a large force of Japanese planes near Empress Augusta Bay and shot down one enemy dive bomber. On a later occasion he maneuvered his plane through intense anti-aircraft fire and sent two Japanese planes crashing into the sea, although his own was badly damaged and burning.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 329 (August 1944)
Action Date: September - November 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 33 (VF-33)

Related Articles

Frank Quady '38 was also a member of Fighting Squadron (VF) 6 at the beginning of the war.

Memorial Hall Error

John is listed as a LCDR in most references and in his Distinguished Flying Cross citation; LT in Memorial Hall. He was promoted as of the July 1, 1944 register, to date from June 15, 1942.

Class of 1938

John is one of 71 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.