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Captain Kenneth F. Hart

Captain Kenneth F. Hart

Born in 1920, Kenneth Franklin Hart joined the Army Reserve in 1942, listing Martinez, California as his home town of record. Accepted for pilot training, he pinned on his silver wings and the gold bar of a second lieutenant at Williams Field, Arizona on 28 July 1943.

Hart completed P-38 school later that year and was sent to the southwest Pacific, where he joined the 8th Fighter Group on 27 January 1944. Three weeks later he was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, where he would fly the rest of his tour. His assigned aircraft was a P-38L, which he named "Peewee".

By November the group was operating in the Philippines, where Hart was promoted to first lieutenant. On the 12th he logged his first combat when he got a bead on an Oscar fighter over Dulag Harbor and was credited with probably shooting it down. Twelve days later, in two different missions a Carigara, Leyte, he claimed a pair of Tony fighters and a Jake floatplane.

Hart scored the 431st's only victory of 2 December when he flamed a Val dive bomber 20 miles south of Ormoc. Then during the famous "Anniversary Missions" of 7 December, he covered the U.S. landings on Ormoc Bay. American fliers claimed 50 victories throughout the day, with two Oscars falling to Hart's Lightning during two missions that afternoon.

.On 28 March, Hart's flight was one of four escorting B-25s against Japanese shipping at Ben Goi Bay, French Indochina. A running battle developed in which the P-38s claimed eight victories, including two Hamps by Hart.

Returned to the States, Hart was promoted to captain in April 1945. He died of unknown causes on 23 December 1946, just 26 years old.

Tally Record:
8 Confirmed
1 Probable

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters