WILLIAM R. KANE, CAPT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Kane '33

Date of birth: June 4, 1911

Date of death: February 5, 1957

Age: 45

Lucky Bag

From the 1933 Lucky Bag:

Biography

1933 Kane 1.jpg

From Veteran Tributes:

William Kane was born on June 4, 1911, in San Rafael, California. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1929, and graduated with a commission as an Ensign on June 1, 1933. His first assignment was aboard the battleship USS New York (BB-34) from June 1933 to April 1934, followed by service aboard the heavy cruiser USS Astoria (CA-34) from April 1934 to June 1935.

Ens Kane completed flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator at NAS Pensacola, Florida, in August 1936, and then served with VB-5B aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) from August 1936 to June 1937. He then served with VF-2, also aboard USS Lexington, from June 1937 to July 1938, followed by service as a Physical Training Instructor and Assistant Football Coach at the U.S. Naval Academy from July to December 1938. LtJg Kane next served as a float plane pilot aboard the heavy cruiser USS Wichita (CA-45) from January 1939 to June 1940, and then served as a flight test officer at NAS Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from July 1940 to October 1942.

His next assignment was as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of VF-10 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) from October 1942 to February 1944, followed by service as Commander of Air Group 10 aboard the Enterprise from February to September 1944. During this time, CDR Kane was credited with the destruction of 6 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 1 probable and 2 damaged, all while flying F6F-3 Hellcat fighters.

He served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon from September 1944 to December 1945, and then served as Executive Officer of the Department of Physical Training and as Assistant Director of Athletics at the U.S. Naval Academy from December 1945 to January 1948.

His next assignment was as Operations and Air Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Tarawa (CV-40) from January 1948 to June 1949, followed by Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from July 1949 to June 1950. He then returned to the Pentagon, serving on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Bureau of Aeronautics from July 1950 to February 1952, and then served as Chief of Staff for the Commander of Heavy Attack Wing ONE at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, from February 1952 to January 1953.

Capt Kane served on the Staff of the Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet from January 1953 to July 1954, followed by U.S. Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, from August 1954 to June 1955. His next assignment was on the Staff of Commander Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, from June 1955 to June 1956, and then as Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Saipan (CVL-48) from July 1956 until he was killed in the crash of a TV-2 Seastar on February 5, 1957. William Kane was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

He was survived by his wife and three children and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

1933 Kane 2.jpg

From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup", published by the class of 1933:

Killer spent nine months undergoing the rigors of JO Mess and bunkroom life aboard the NEW YORK, surviving that to report to the cruiser ASTORIA, newly commissioned at Bremerton. He combined honeymoon and flight training at Pensacola in 1935-36, then joined Air Group Two aboard the LEXINGTON for a year each in VB-5 and VF-2. He coached the Navy Plebes football line in the Fall of 1938 and then reported to the WICHITA as Senior Aviator.

In July, 1940, Killer went to the Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor, and was Officer of the Day there on December 7, 1941 (the O.O.D. duty lasted 72 hours that time). In October, 1942, he became Executive Officer of the "Grim Reapers", VF-10, aboard the ENTERPRISE, and fleeted up to squadron commander the following February. His planes took part in the battles of Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, and Rennell Island. After returning to the States for rest and reorganization that Summer, the squadron rejoined the ENTERPRISE in October, 1943. In February, 1944, Bill took command of the Air Group, that same month taking part in the Truk assault, the first successful night bombing attack ever staged by Navy carrier-based planes. His group was in practically every major fleet air attack in the Pacific from January to July, the Marshalls, Truk, Palau, Yap and Woleai, Hollandia, Enurau, Saipan, etc. In the latter operation he was shot down by our own forces, but was rescued half and hour later, ruffled but not seriously injured. A second rescue followed a few days later when he was forced to ditch at night after leading the attack against the Jap Carriers in the area.

Upon return stateside in late Summer of 1944, Killer was assigned duty in DCNO (Air) for about 18 months, directing the aviation physical and military training program. He served another two years as Assistant Director of Athletics at the Naval Academy. A year and a half duty first as Air Officer, then Operations Officer, in the TARAWA followed. From August 1949 to June 1950 Bill attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. In July, 1950 he reported again to DCNO (Air), with collateral duty in the Military Requirements Division of BuAer. He is now Chief Staff Officer, Heavy Attack Wing One.

Bill married Madeline Munns of Bremerton, Washington, on June 14, 1935. They have three children, William David, born in 1936, Judith Munns, 1940, and Christina Mary, 1949.

The Killer is a sports fan, golf addict and flying enthusiast. He also calls himself a hammer-and-saw wood butcher. He belongs to the American FootballCoaches Association, USNA Alumni and Athletic Associations, and is honorary President of the V-5 Association of America.

He has the Navy Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Presidential Unit Citation. The latter was awarded in 1942 to the ENTERPRISE, the first ship to receive such an award in World War II.

From Arlington National Cemetery:

Madeline Kane Hurlburt, Bill's wife and mother of two babies while stationed on Ford Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (Dad was just being relieved as officer of the day at Ford Island) died Tuesday, October 24, 2006, at age 94.

Incidentally, I have photos of mom serving cookies to the young army soldiers setting up machine gun nests in our front yard trying to protect the battleships. Amazing women in that era!

  • February 17, 1944, two kills
  • March 30, 1944, one kill
  • June 11, 1944, two kills
  • June 20, 1944, three kills

This site has more details of William's wartime exploits, including an incident where was shot down near Saipan but rescued by a destroyer. Several days later he was again forced to land in the sea and was again rescued by a destroyer.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander William Richard Kane, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane and Commander of Air Group 10 TEN (AG-10), attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), in action from 11 to 25 June 1944, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Southern Marianas Islands, from 11 to 25 June 1944. Courageously leading his Air Group on numerous attacks, including fighter sweeps and bombardment missions, against strong enemy installations, Commander Kane inflicted serious and costly damage on enemy airfields, gun emplacements and beach positions, personally destroying one enemy fighter in aerial combat and damaging another. Despite a painful wound incurred when shot down on 16 June, he participated in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea on 20 June, serving as a fighter escort for several planes seeking the location of the main Japanese Fleet and shooting down a single-engined torpedo plane and a twin float aero-reconnaissance plane. Conducting a coordinated strike against the Japanese Fleet, he shot down an intercepting enemy ZERO in the ensuing battle and, directing his fighter planes in strafing dives on the decks of an enemy carrier, reduced the anti-aircraft opposition for his dive bombers and torpedo planes during their attacks which disabled or sunk the enemy vessel. Retiring with his group through darkness to base after this strenuous and protracted engagement, he effected a forced water landing, when unable to land on his carrier. By his brilliant airmanship, courageous initiative and daring leadership, Commander Kane contributed materially to the success of our operations in these historic actions, and his great personal valor in the face of grave peril was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander Fast Carrier Task Force: Serial 0247 (July 13, 1944)
Action Date: June 11 - 25, 1944
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Commanding Officer
Regiment: Air Group 10 (AG-10)
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Commander [then Lieutenant Commander] William Richard Kane, United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commander of Fighting Squadron TEN (VF-10), in operations against enemy Japanese forces at Taroa and Kwajalein, from 29 January to 4 February 1944; and against Truk, 16 - 17 February 1944. Determinedly pushing through to his target at Taroa under extremely adverse conditions of weather and darkness, Commander Kane effected the rendezvous of sufficient fighters to destroy all airborne opposition and many enemy aircraft on the ground. During action against Kwajalein, he effectively led numerous strikes against the enemy, destroying an ammunition dump and other installations. Commanding the first combined fighter sweep in the initial American offensive move against the enemy stronghold at Truk, he directed his 72 fighters skillfully and coolly against enemy air opposition and anti-aircraft fire and personally shot down three enemy planes. His superb professional skill, able leadership and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Pacific Fleet Board Awards: Serial 66
Action Date: January 29 - February 4, 1944
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 10 (VF-10)
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Commander [then Lieutenant Commander] William Richard Kane, United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Commander of Air Group TEN, attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Marshall and Caroline Islands and at Hollandia, New Guinea, from 20 February to 30 April 1944. Skillfully leading his flight of carrier-based planes on numerous missions in support of our offensive operations in these strategic islands, Commander Kane consistently maneuvered his planes for maximum striking power and, directing devastating assaults against the Japanese, contributed immeasurably to the infliction of serious and costly damage on hostile aircraft, installations and shipping. At Palau and Truk, he assisted in the destruction of two enemy planes during fierce aerial encounters. His inspiring leadership, indomitable fighting spirit, superb airmanship and gallant devotion to duty despite grave hazards reflect the highest credit upon Commander Kane and the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: February 20 - April 30, 1944
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander
Company: Commanding Officer
Regiment: Air Group 10
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)


Class of 1933

William is one of 38 members of the Class of 1933 in Memorial Hall.