George Kenney was a United States Army Air Forces general during World War II. He is best known as the commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), a position he held between August 1942 and 1945.
George Churchill Kenney was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 6 August 1889, during a summer vacation taken by his parents to avoid the humidity of the Boston area. The oldest of four children of carpenter Joseph Atwood Kenney and his wife Anne Louise Kenney, née Churchill, Kenney grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts.
He graduated from Brookline High School in 1907 and later that year he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he pursued a course in civil engineering. After his father left his family, Kenney quit MIT and took various jobs before becoming a surveyor for the Quebec Saguenay Railroad.
After enlisting in the Aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Kenney earned his wings and was commissioned a first lieutenant in 1917. He received combat training in France and scored two aerial victories while serving with the 91st Aero Squadron.
After the war, Kenney led the Eighth Aero Squadron serving in the Border Patrol. After attending the Engineering School at McCook Field, he made bomber acceptance tests, and pioneered the mounting of machine guns on warplane wings to increase firepower. Kenney attended the Tactical School and the Command and General Staff School. He later instructed at the Tactical School, where he developed low altitude attack tactics and the parachute fragmentation bomb.
Upon graduation from the War College in 1933, he served in the Plans Division and later in the GHQ Air Force in 1935. He was Chief of Production at Wright Field in 1939. After serving as Assistant Air Attaché in Paris in 1940, he recommended basic improvements in pilot protection and warplane firepower. He was commander of the engineering division at Wright Field in 1940, and assistant chief of the materiel division in 1941. During World War II, he commanded the Fourth Air Force, then became commanding General of the Allied air forces and the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific.
He also became commander of the Far East Air Force in 1944. His forces employed many of his new air tactics in helping to bring victory over Japan in 1945. After the war, he served on the military staff committee of the United Nations. In 1946, he organized and commanded the Strategic Air Command. He became Commandant of the Air University in 1948, and retired as a General in 1951.
General George Kenney died on August 9th, 1977.
He was survived by his two children, five grandsons and one granddaughter. His stepson, William "Bill" R. Kenney, rose to the rank of colonel in the USAF. His daughter, Julia, married Edward C. Hoagland Jr., a fighter pilot in World War II and later in Korea, who eventually retired from the USAF at the rank of lieutenant colonel.