Dickinson County

Lt. John W. Kidd

MIA 29 Oct 1942
~Published Des Moines Register, Feb. 27, 1944


John Kidd Transferred To Shreveport, LA.

Lieut. John Kidd, who was recently graduated from the Army Flying School at Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz., has been transferred to Barksdale Field, at Shreveport, La., and is now having further training in piloting larger army planes.

Lieut. Kidd’s following letters to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd, tell of some of the experiences he is having and explains his new type of training.

February 13
Dear Folks:

It wouldn’t surprise me if you don’t recognize the handwriting, it has been so long since I’ve written. I’ve been so busy the last two weeks.

As you know I have been stationed here at Barksdale Field in Louisiana. As to how long or anything I don’t know, but I understand we are to have some training here in A-20’s which is a wonderful plane. It is a two motor plane and cruises about 350 m. p. h. at 15,000 feet. Then I heard we will fly some B17’s which are four motored planes. I’m hoping for the A-20’s. We may be here a week or three months, or indefinitely, it’s just impossible to say.

I received a very nice letter from H. E. Ilsley and B. A. LaDox, and which I appreciated so much. It really thrilled me to get the telegrams from the K. P.s and from John Webb and the basketball boys. I eventually will write to every one of them and thank them.

So glad to get to talk to all of you over the phone. I felt just like I was in town calling out home. Have my Beacon changed to here and also to Lieutenant Kidd, or I won’t get it here.

February 29

We have started flying again and as yet I’m quite disappointed in the planes which we are flying. They are just too big.

I flew today, as a co-pilot, in a L. B. 30 which is a four motored bomber. Each engine uses 50 gallons of gas an hour, so you get a little idea of how large it really is. It carries a crew of 6 or 7 all the time. I think if you’d put wings on our house, that’d be about the same size.

I wrote you a letter a while back and then didn’t mail it. I put it in my coat and forgot it. I mentioned in it that we weren’t given any choice of what we were to go into, or rather they didn’t go by our choice at all. I did put down on my slip which they ad us make out that I would take ferry command first and instructor second, but they didn’t go by what we asked for so we are flying bombers.

Our schedule runs much as it did as Cadets, only a little more so. We get up at 5:30 and go to ground school or fly until noon. Then either fly or ground school in the afternoon and at night we either fly or go to the link training till 11 or 11:30.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, February 26, 1942, Page 4

Lieut. John Kidd Off For Unannounced Destination

Lieut. John Kidd, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kidd, wrote his parents the last of the week that he would leave Fort Meyers, Fla., May 17 for an unannounced destination. Before his departure John was given his appointment as first lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

In writing to his parents he was unable to give any information as to his destination, except for the fact that a group of picked pilots were selected for a special mission and their route would take them over Africa. He wrote he expected to be back for Christmas.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, May 21, 1942, Page 12

Local Youth In Air Attack
Over Mediterreanean


[photo included]

Less than a year from the time he entered the U. S. Flying Cadet School, Cal Aero Academy, at Onterio (sic), Calif., to begin his training in the Air Corps. Lieut. John Kidd, son of Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd of Spirit Lake, figured in his first major air attack for the Allied cause.

A communiqué from London, England Wednesday disclosed the fact that U. S. Army bombers were credited with scoring 35 direct bomb hits on two Italian battleships in operations with the Royal Air force in central Mediterranean.

Among the Americans [illegible] in the attack were Lieut. Kidd, and Lieut. K. W. Butler of Lenox, Ia., with Col. H. A. Halverson of Boone, Iowa, commanding the United States flyers at an Allied Airdrome in the Libyan Desert.

 News of John’s participation in the bombing was first heard by Spirit Lake people in a radio news flash early Wednesday afternoon. It will be remembered that John had left the Atlantic coast on May 24 for an undisclosed destination, which he had written might take him over Africa. Early reports of the bombing in the Mediterranean had led his relatives here to believe that he might have participated in the attack, and the radio reports and this morning’s press stories proved their beliefs to be facts.

According to press reports this morning, the Yanks delivered their first blow in the Mediterranean war Monday, with Maj. Alfred E. Kalberer, leading the flight. Kalberer, a former United Air Line Pilot Indiana said every one of the American Bombers got back safely from the attack.

Kalberer stated that the boys with him were marvelous.

He stated that he had been flying for years and some of these boys were just out of training, but that they were as good as he was any day. He disclosed that the American bombers flew to the attack so high the crew used oxygen; that a British observer accompanied each Liberator (Consolidated) bomber; that the Americans reached the scene first and attacked before British planes arrive; that the Italian fleet was prevented from even coming within range of the convoy it set out to attack; that the two damaged Italian warships were left so hard hit they probably would require repairs that would take four to five months.

The Americans have been in the Libyan Desert in full operating force only two weeks. During that time they have been confined close to their work and their desert barracks.

Lieut. Kidd, who is a graduate of the local high school, was a popular athlete during his high school days. He attended Sioux Falls college following his graduation here and then was employed several years with the Coca Cola Bottling Co. He took flying training at the Government C. A. A. flight school at Estherville, completing his training in May, 1941. On July 16, 1941, he received his appointment to the Flying Cadets, and soon after reported at Cal Aero Academy. After the completion of his training there he went to Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz., where he received his wings as a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Corps in February, 1942. He received his First Lieutenant’s rating shortly after, this rating going into effect March 1st.

His further training was at Ft. Meyers, Fla., from where he started his ocean flight early Sunday morning, May 24 after a short telephone conversation with his parents. John has not had a furlough since he began his training. He is the first local youth to graduated from an advanced flying course.

February 2. John Kidd received “Silver Wings” and Lieutenant’s commission in U. S. Army Air Corps at Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz., being first Spirit Lake youth to graduate from advanced flying course.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, June 18, 1942, Page 1

Lieut. John Kidd Writes Parents From Desert

Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd were very happy Tuesday to receive a letter from their son, Lieut. John Kidd, who is believed to be at an Allied Air base in the Libyan Desert in Africa. The letter was written July 23, and John wrote that he was very happy to have received five or six pieces of mail from home. Among the mail was the magazine, Red Barrel, publication of the Coca Cola Bottling Co., which John was glad to receive but wrote he would rather have received a barrel of Coca Cola.

Again he asked his parents not to worry about him, and stated they would be surprised to know of the places he had been, and that they would like to be there too.

The last word received from John was a letter that was written June 24, which took about a month to reach here.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, September 03, 1942, Page 8

Lieut. John Kidd Visits Jerusalem and Bethlehem


In a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd received on Sunday, Lieut. John Kidd tells of spending a two weeks vacation, when he had the opportunity of visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The letter was written August 29, 1942. Lieut. Kidd is with the Army Air Forces, probably somewhere in Africa. His letter follows:

Dear Folks:
Well here I am again writing to you about six years after I should have.

In fact I’ve waited so long this time that I’m going to have to send you a cablegram to make up for it just as soon as I can get to town. (The cable arrived Sept. 11)

Well, we just had a most surprising and wonderful thing happen! We just had two weeks vacation and they were really appreciated. Most everyone just ate and slept and swam for the full two weeks and it was really wonderful. I did put in about three days looking over some of the historical spots of this country and I’d sure like to tell you about them, but I expect it will be censored. Anyhow I’ve been to Cairo and also to see Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I think that’s all I’d better say, because it will probably be cut out.

I have received most of your letters I think and also a lot from everyone and I’m gong to try and answer them all, as soon as we get another 24 hour pass, which we get after we go on three or four missions.

I am being checked out as first pilot and I’ll sure be glad when that happens, because I won’t have to work so hard. You see the co-pilot does most of the flying and the pilot just sort of sits there and sees that things are done right.

I’m going to send a letter which you may like to see.

Lots of Love, John.


The following letter is the letter spoken of above

July 14, 1942

Subject – Commendation
To: First Lieut. John W. Kidd

1. The following letters has been received from the Commanding General, Headquarters, United States Army Middle East Air Force.

“Will you please express my extreme gratification and pride to all members of your command for the outstanding success of the attack against Bengazi on July sixth.

“You have every reason to be proud of the results obtained which have caused outspoken expressions of admiration on the part of the British and our own forces.”

Signed: Lewis H. Brereton
Major General, U. S. Army

2. I wish to add to the above my commendation, sincere personal appreciation and congratulations of this entire command.
H. A. Halverson.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, September 17, 1942, Page 1

Lieut. John Kidd Writes of
First “and Last” Camel Ride

Lieut. John Kidd, in a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd, received on Monday, tells of the experience of having his first “and last” camel ride. Lieut. Kidd’s last known location was in the Libyan desert in Africa, according to press stories which told of the action seen by Army Air Corps pilots stationed there. According to news from that point, recently, the local youth is continuing to see plenty of action.

The following are excerpts from John’s recent letter, dated October 9th.

“I was pleased to get your two letters of Sept.13th and 9th. I mention them that way as I received the one written the 13th first. I have not received the Beacons as yet, but will eventually, I hope.

“The pictures of Jerry and David are sure great; those guys look like they’d just pulled one of their big deals and couldn’t hardly keep it a secret. By the way, they, with Dick, would have enjoyed my ride the other day, probably more than I did. I had my first “and last” camel ride. I didn’t think either of us enjoyed it very much; he groaned and screamed when I got on and I was doing the same when I got off. Just to top things off I rode a little burro afterwards that I think David could get in his pocket, but it didn’t feel a bit bad and just trotted off.

“By the time you get this the summer season will be over and all the fellows, not in the army, will be away at school or the “little” boys, like Dana Omer, Don Webb, Rog Price and Gosh! I don’t hardly know who will make up the team, (it’s been two seasons since I’ve seen them) will be in Spirit Lake high preparing to take over the conference, and I’m sure they can do it. I’ll make a guess who the others on the team will be, Russ Willard, Sierck, Benny Boehm, or have those three graduated? The Miller twins, Alex Lenox, John or Jim Walston.

Well, right now I can’t think of any more so I guess it’ll have to be a six man team. Anyhow I sure hope they have good luck and a lot of success.

Tell the friends and relatives hello for me and I’ll still try to write more often and to more people. Right now I believe you’d better send my Christmas Present. (But you can never tell.) Love to all, John.”

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, October 29, 1942, Page 1

Lieut. John Kidd Missing in Action in Africa


Lieut. Kidd In Hospital
Although the Kidd family has had no message other than that received a week ago, they were overjoyed this morning when an Associated Press story from Cairo, Egypt, carried the news regarding the decoration on Wednesday of nearly 100 officers and me, who have been fighting the enemy for months in the air in the Middle East.

The story continued as follows: “Among silver stars for gallantry in action, passed out to men in hospitals, was one awarded Lieut. John W. Kidd, of Spirit Lake, Iowa.”

The family and many friends of Lieut. John Kidd who have watched with interest his step by step progress through training, graduation and overseas activity with the United States Army Air Corps, heard with much sorrow and regret late Thursday afternoon, Nov. 5, that he was “missing in action in the African territory.” His parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd, received a government message about 4 o’clock that afternoon, the wire bringing the disheartening news that he had been “missing in action” since October 29th.

The local youth who has been on active duty in one of the foremost battle zones in the news today, North Africa, had been in that territory since early in June and as a pilot of an army bomber has taken part in the major air battles that have been raging in the Libyan section of that country.

Although the family has never heard directly from John himself as to his battle activities, and knows very little of the experiences that he has had, due to censorship, press and radio reports of June 17 disclosed the fact that he was among the army air men who participated in bombardment operations over the Mediterranean Sea on June 15, and that the planes were flying from an allied airdrome in the Libyan desert. Just recently he enclosed in his letter to his parents, a commendation which he had received for his part in the attack on Bengazi on July 6th. Because of these reports, the family and friends of the youth know that he has played an important part in that major battle zone.

The morning following the receiving of the government wire, Mr. and Mrs. Kidd received a letter from their son, which had been written October 23. We quote parts of that letter here:

“I have just received two of your letters and seven or eight Beacons and really have the low down on everything from commencement to the first football game of the season. I have enjoyed receiving them and reading them and hope both the letters and the Beacons keep coming in.

“I have been made a First pilot now and have my own crew of seven. Am more than thrilled about it. They a e all excellent fellows and from seven different states. We get along well except “Civil War” breaks out once in a while!

“If you can thing to send them, I would like the addresses of Wendell, Merril, Art, Ray Lenox, “Doc” Grimm, “Jiggs” Soults, and you better send Ed’s again, along with Harold Sharps. Lots of Love, John.”

John, who is a graduate of the local school, where he was a popular athlete, attended Sioux Falls college for 2 ½ years and was employed for six years with the Coca Cola Bottling Co. in Spirit Lake. About two years ago he decided to take the preliminary flying training at the C. A. A. flying school operated by the Junior college at Estherville and with a friend, Edgar Doudna, now an army flyer on the Island of Oahu, completed the training in May 1941. On July 16, John received his appointment to the flying cadets and reported for training at Cal-Aero Academy at Ontario, Calif., where he completed his basic training on Dec. 20, 1941. He was sent from there to Luke Field, Texas, for his advanced training and received his wings on Feb. 6, 1942, receiving the rating of second Lieutenant. Later he was promoted to First Lieutenant. He was the first Spirit Lake youth to win the coveted wings, having been the first from this community to be accepted for training.

He had further training at Barksdale Field, La., and from there went to Ft. Meyers, Fla., where he was trained for the important job to which he and other flyers were assigned in Africa.

He left the east coast on May 25th for an undisclosed destination and until the middle of June his family and friends did not know of his whereabouts until the press reports told of his action in the Libyan desert. The first letter arrived from the youth on July 2nd and since then he has written several times telling something of his everyday experiences, but due to censorship, nothing of his flying activities. His letters have been published in the Beacon several times and friends have read with interest his sidelights on his life in the desert country in which he was located.

July 1941, John had not visited Spirit Lake, never having been granted a furlough during the long period of his training. His parents, however, visited with him in Louisiana during the time he was stationed there.

“Johnnie” as he was known to his great hosts of friends, young and old in this community, had since the start of his training been most enthusiastic and anxious to get into the battle, and the part he has played in the African desert battle has been an important one leading up to the present entry of U. S. troops in that territory.

His friends can only console the family at this time with hopes and prayers that further good word will be received of his whereabouts, and if not, that the victory there will be a part of his making.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, November 12, 1942, Page 1


Spirit Lake, Iowa—Missing is still the official designation of John Kidd, former Spirit Lake high school athletic ace, according to the American Red Cross. The report was received here by the county home service chairman. Mrs. Johanna Dean, Kidd was reported missing in a telegram received from the war department November 5, 1942, with October 29 listed as the date upon which he was missing. Later a Cairo dispatch gave his name among those who were decorated in outlying hospitals and still later his name was mentioned in a letter from another Spirit Lake youth in that area. The war department, however, still lists him as missing, the Red Cross check reveals. Kidd is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vorus Kidd of Spirit Lake.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, May 12, 1943

Chapter in Death of 1st Lt. John Kidd,
Who Lost Life in Night Bomber Mission
off Kaso Island off Crete in Mediterranean

The final chapter of the heroic service life of 1st Lieut. John Kidd was closed the past week when word came from the government to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. V. Kidd, that that Lieut. Kidd’s name had been placed on the government’s rolls s a war casualty. The message came to the family on Thursday, Nov. 4, just a year from the time they received the first message from the government that he was “missing in action” in the Middle East Area since Oct. 29, 1942.

For a year the family and friends of the popular Spirit Lake youth have waited for word that would add a happier chapter to the life of the youth, in view of the fact that shortly after the “missing in action” word came last Nov. 5 an Associated Press story dated Nov. 11 stated Lieut. Kidd had been awarded the Silver Star for bravery in a hospital in Africa.

That information, which has since been checked and rechecked by the family and influential friends, failed to bring any assurance of the safety of Lt. Kidd and it was presumed that he lost his life in the service of his country.

It is a coincidence that with the final message came a visit from Major Donald MacDonald, of the intelligence department of the 12th Air Force with headquarters in
North Africa. Major MacDonald, hearing from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Angus MacDonald of Spirit Lake, of the report of Lieut. Kidd’s missing status, made an effort while in Africa to get information regarding the action in which Lieut. Kidd was presumed to have lost his life. Major MacDonald has just returned from Africa and arrived here Thursday, bringing with him a letter he had received from Captain Charles H. Morgan of the Air Corps.

With this information he was able to clear up some of the mystery regarding the presentation of the Silver Star award to Lieut. Kidd.

These letters and their accompanying transcripts of the General Orders that announced his citation and the award will clear up some of the confusion in the minds of the friends of Lt. Kidd’s who have for the past year awaited some word of the missing youth.

“Johnnie” has long been in the hearts and minds of the Spirit Lake community residents. He was one of the popular Spirit Lake high school athletes, and was the first Spirit Lake boy to win his wings in the army air corps. He went overseas in May 1942 and immediately went into action against the enemy from the air. On June 17 he figured in his first major air attack, being with the U. S. army bombers who were credited with scoring 35 direct bomb hits on two Italian battleships in operation with the Royal Air Force in Central Mediterranean.

On July 6 he went into action against the enemy at Bengasi and it was for this operation that he received a commendation for gallantry from Lewis H. Brereton, Major General of the U. S. Army. It was this engagement for whish he was cited for the Silver Star award.

The letter brought from Africa by Major MacDonald can best explain the circumstances of Lt. Kidd’s disappearance.

H. Q. Bomber Command
March 6, 1943

Dear Major MacDonald:

Your letter came through in quick time and I’ve got as much of the story as can be found now about Lt. Kidd. On the night of October 29-30 he set out on a night mission and was not seen again. The weather was bad in places, and the ack-ack over the target was heavy and accurate. Either of these hazards may have been the cause of his loss. Other crews on the same mission reported seeing a light on the water near the island of Kaso, off the northeast end of Crete. Rescue search in this area the next day showed no signs either of plane or crew. The formation (or rather flight) leader and squadron commander has no opinion as to whether the light might or might not have been a signal from a plane on the water or a dinghy. If it were, there might have been a chance that Jerry picked them up. On Nov. 1st his name was cited on the squadron’s records as missing in action. No further word of either Lt. Kidd or any member of his crew has been received here.

Before his disappearance he had been recommended for the Silver Star in recognition of his performance on another mission. I am enclosing transcripts of the General Orders that announced his citation and the award. The fact that these are dated after the time of his loss probably accounts for the confusion in his family’s mind. I am enclosing them because I thought his family might not have seen them and would be glad to have them. Sorry not to have any hopeful news.

Please remember me to the section and to the P. I. contingent, and the best of luck to you all.
Charles H. Morgan
Captain, A. C.

Transcript of General Orders
November 5, 1942

Headquarters U. S. A. Middle East Air Forces
General Order No. 8 (Citation)
(Par) 47. John w. Kidd, O-435799, 1st Lieutenant A. A. F. is cited for gallantry in action against the enemy. This officer while making an individual night attack, as co-pilot, on Benghasi made available to his pilot the utmost performance of the aircraft. In the course of the attack, three runs were made over the target as a result of faulty bomb release mechanism, and in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and searchlight concentration. Despite the above opposition this aircraft managed successfully to bomb the assigned target area, causing large fires in warehouses and railroad sidings. In the course of the action, this aircraft was hit in numerous places, and both the tail action and wings wer damaged by anti-aircraft fire. As a result of this attack valuable enemy supplies and transportation facilities were destroyed.

By Command of Maj. General Brereton.


November 11, 1942

Headquarters, A. S. Army Forces in Middle East
General Order No. 22.
(1) Awards of Silver Star.

By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bul. 43, W. D. 1919) in accordance with authorization contained in War Department radiogram Amsme No. 161 dated July 23, 1942, the following named officers and enlisted men of the U. S. Army Middle East Air Forces, having been cited for gallantry in action in General Orders No. 8 Nov. 5, 1942, are awarded the Silver Star decoration.
d. 376th Bomb Group (H)

(2) The members of Hal Bomb Sq. (H) 1st Bomb Group (H)
1st Lieut. John W. Kidd O-435799.

By Command of Lieut. Gen Andrews.

The following from the War Department to the family telling the regret with which the government must inform them of their son’s death, bespeaks the sympathy also of friends in this community, who knew John so well and who have watched with interest his progress through school and in his studies to fit himself to serve his country so bravely.

Oct. 29, 1943

Dear Mrs. Kidd:

It is my distressing duty to inform you that all possible efforts have failed to locate your son, First Lieutenant John W. Kidd, O-435799 Air Corps, who was officially reported missing in action in the Middle East Area on October 29, 1942.

Pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, as amended, all available records, reports and circumstances relating to the disappearance of your son have been carefully reviewed and considered and an official finding of death has been made. The law cited provides that when such a finding is made “it shall include the date upon which death shall be presumed to have occurred for the purposes of termination of crediting pay and allowances, settlements of accounts, and payments of death gratuities and such date shall be the day following the day of expiration of an absence of twelve months.” According, the death finding in Lieutenant Kidd’s case shows the presumed date of death at Oct. 29, 1943.

I very much regret that the conditions of warfare on many fronts and over isolated areas and vast expanses of water, as well as the disinclination of some of our enemies to report deaths in occupied territory, have all served to deny to some of us an accurate knowledge of the actual dates and circumstances of the death of our loved ones. We can nevertheless find sustaining comfort in the knowledge that this uncertainty regarding actual circumstances of time and location can in no way alter the significance of their sacrifice; and to them, as to those others the circumstances of whose death have been fully recorded, must be ascribed the great honor of having given their lives for their country in her gravest crisis.

I extend my heartfelt sympathy to you.

Sincerely Yours,
J. A. Ulio
Major General
The Adjutant General.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, November 11, 1943, Page 1

NOTE: The John W. Kidd VFW Post No. 4515 of Spirit Lake was named in Lt. Kidd’s honor.

Iowa Honor Roll

These Iowans have given their lives for their country. Each man pictured here has been killed in combat or has died in a prison camp. This group includes the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, who went down with the Juneau. The fourth line under each picture indicates the area in which the man last served. Further Honor Roll photographs will be carried here later.

Source: The Des Moines Register, Sunday, February 27, 1944 (photos included)