Louis Kne never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on June 17, 1918 in Minnesota. His parents Frank and Marija were both born in Slovenian speaking Austria-Hungry and came to America in 1909. His father worked as a grocery clerk and later as an iron miner. Louis had an older sister, an older brother, and nine (yes, nine) younger brothers. At least five of the Kne brothers served in the Army or Navy during WW2. By 1940 Louis had completed four years of high school and was working as an interior decorator while living at home.
He was drafted into the Army in June 1942 and he volunteered for the Army Air Forces. He became a staff sergeant in the 425th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Bombardment Group, 14th Air Force which was based in Kweilin, China. Sgt. Kne was trained as a B-24 tail gunner.
Sgt. Kne volunteered to substitute as the tail gunner on the mission aboard the B-24 Chug-a-Lug on August 24, 1943. During the mission, a head-on attack from Japanese fighters grievously damaged the bomber with over 200 cannon and machine-gun holes. Four of the crew were seriously injured. Sgt. Kne shot down a Japanese plane, but he was wounded by a shot from its tail gunner as it went down. Sgt. Kne gave up his oxygen mask to a crew mate with a severed air line.
Chug-a-Lug escaped into cloud cover and managed to return to base relying on the memory of the navigator since the maps had blown out of the plane. The pilot made a successful high speed crash landing. Sgt. Kne was the only one who died.
Sgt. Kne's older brother Joseph joined the army a year earlier that Joseph and served in the 3rd Armored Division in the European Theater as a TEC 5. On October 20, 1944, Cpl. Kne was driving some supplies to front line near Aachen, Germany when he was killed by a German artillery barrage.
Louis's grave is at Calvary Cemetery in Chisholm, Minnesota. His brother is buried in Belgium.
Interestingly, their family home still has a gold star displayed outside.
Thank you Louis and Joseph for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for the Kne brothers.
Last year on this date I profiled Clyde Boyd, USS St Louis kamikaze victim. You can read about Clyde here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100