John Henebry, was born in Plainfield, Illinois on February 14, 1918 to Hannah Blair and Joseph Henebry. Enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in 1940.
He enlisted in the United States Army on July 30, 1940. Commissioned a second lieutenant on March 14, 1941, upon graduation from pilot training at Randolph and Kelly Fields in Texas. His first military assignment was to the 22nd Bomb Group at Langley Field in Virginia and then he was transferred to the newly formed 13th Bomb Group at Orlando, Florida in which he had his first flight experience in the B-25 airplane.
During June, 1942 John Henebry was transferred to the 3rd Attack Group (3rd Bombardment Group), Fifth Air Force then based at Charters Towers Airfield then based at Port Moresby.
Henebry was largely responsible for the reconfiguration of the B-25 Mitchell into a strafer variant, which was implemented by "Pappy" Gunn. During the Battle of The Bismark Sea, newly armed with forward facing 50 caliber machine guns and utilizing a low level skip-bombing technique, Henebry and the other pilots were able to sink an entire enemy convoy for the first time.
November 2, 1943 mssion against Rabaul
Henebry led the the November 2, 1943 mission over Rabaul. That attack was carried out with 185 fighter and bomber planes and was one of the largest air attack formations in the Pacific Theatre at the time. Piloting B-25D "The Notre Dame de Victoire" 41-30316, he was credited with sinking two ships before his bomber was damaged over the target and forced to ditch without injury to the crew.
Later, the unit moved to Dobodura, Nadzab and Hollandia, Leyte and Mindoro. In July 1943, he became Commander of the 90th Bombardment Squadron of the 3rd Attack Group and Commander of the entire 3rd Attack Group during November, 1943.
During late 1944 became Commander of the FEAF Combat Replacement and Training Center (CRTC) based at Nadzab Airfield. When Japan officially surrendered, he was aboard the USS Missouri along side of General MacArthur and General Kenney for the signing of the Instrument of Surrender. He went on to become Commander of Clark Field in the Philippines, the largest American overseas base, for some time after the war.
During World War II he received every Air Force medal, except the Medal of Honor, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Unit Citations.
After the war he retired from active duty as Colonel and entered Air Force Reserve duty. In Reserve duty he was Commander of the 437th Troop Carrier Wing based at O’Hare Field. Named Brigadier General on his 30th birthday.
In August, 1950 that Wing was called to active duty and it went to Korea and Japan to serve with the Combat Cargo Command. These two units were combined to form the 312th Air Division and carry out the Korean Airlift. General Henebry was the first Commander of the Division.
For his contributions during the Korean War, by appointment of the Queen, he was named Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and also received the Korean Ulchi Medal with gold star from the Republic of Korea. In August, 1952 he returned to Air Force Reserve duty and he was named Major General in August, 1957. Major General Henebry retired from the Air Force in 1976 after 37 years of duty to his county.
Among his business interests, he and his brother Joseph founded Skymotive in 1946, a private aviation service company located at O’Hare, and on the property that is now occupied by the United Airlines terminals. In addition, he had owned a number of stainless steel and aluminum fabricating businesses.
In 2002 he wrote The Grim Reapers At Work in the Pacific Theatre an autobiography of his experiences during World War II. Henebry died of heart failure at age 89 on Sunday morning September 30, 2007 surrounded by his family at Evanston Hospital in Illinois.
John Philip Henebry Obituary October 1, 2007
The Grim Reapers At Work in the Pacific Theatre
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