Medals and Badges Kenneth H. Bonnar
Kenneth Howard Bonnar's (nickname Kenny) parents were Mr. Howard and Mrs. Bonnar; Kenneth also had a brother named William Bonnar. They lived in Hammondsville, Ohio. Kenneth attended Hammondsville grade schools and Irondale High School and was employed by the McLain Fire Brick Co. before entering Army Air Forces. Kenneth was married with Mrs. Hazel Bonnar. He registrated at his local board office in Hammondsville, Jefferson, Ohio on 16 October, 1940.
Kenneth Bonnar's official registration card dated 10/16/40 at his local board office which has on the other side a description of registrant
Kenneth H. Bonnar entered the service in November 1942. He also had a brother in the service. About 1942 Kenneth received his silver wings, the rating of an aerial gunner in the army air force and was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Around that same time he also graduated from a course in aviation mechanics at the North American Aviation factory school at Inglewood, California.
Articles written in his hometown newspaper, probably written before he left for overseas which would date these probably 1942
This is a photo when Kenneth Bonnar first entered the Army Air Force in 1942
Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar went overseas in November 1943, he was a tail gunner on a B17 Flying Fortress. He served with the 388th Bomber Group - 560th Bomber Squadron. During one of his missions over occupied Europe Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar's plane was shot down somewhere over Germany February 20, 1944. "Kenny", at that time 28 years old, received his Purple Heart for injuries he sustained when he parachuted out of his hit plane. He had fractures in both his feet, but still walked in the Death March (he was one of the "Kriegies" that survived the Death March) and would receive blows from the butt of the German soldiers’ guns when he would stumble leaving him with permanent disabilities, but he never gave up.
Kenneth Bonnar with his squadron, "Kenny" is in the back row, from the left he is number 2
Back of the picture - On the back "Kenny" listed everyone in the photo and their position in the photograph. Sgt. Bonnar listed everyone's name, where they were from, their rank and if they were missing in action. He listed himself as "your honey" as this picture was sent to his wife
When Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar was captured he was taken to Stalag 1 in Barth Germany. In an article from Sgt. Bonnar's hometown newspaper in Ohio from 1944 appeared an article stating: "Two district Airmen lost in Nazi raids".
Photo of Kenneth Bonnar when he was captured and was taken at Stalag 1 in Barth Germany with his POW number. On the Back of the picture "Kenny" wrote in pencil his name and where photo was taken
While Kenneth was a POW, Mrs. Bonnar was presented the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf cluster awarded to her husband, Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar, in a ceremony at Lockbourne army air base at Columbus. The citation accompanying the award reads: "For exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in 10 seperate bomber combat missions over enemy occupied continental Europe. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by this enlisted man on these occasions reflect great credit upon himself and the armed Forces of the United States."
Sgt. Bonnar's Air Medal with one Oak Leaf cluster
Kenneth and his brother, William (who also served in the US military), both received a certificate dated January 30, 1944 for honoring Kenneth Bonnar and William Bonnar each stating that his community and country were proud of his sacrifice and "will prove to be a vital factor in our inevitable victory".
Certificate dated January 30, 1944 for honoring Kenneth
From Stalag number 3 Kenneth sent a POW-postcard to his mother home in Ohio. The postcard is dated May 29, 1944; his mother received the card on September 11, 1944. Kenneth wished everyone well and not to worry about him.
The POW-postcard Kenneth wrote to his mom from Stalag #3
A lot of the prisoners in the camp or at least in Kenneth's barracks, which would probably have been Stalag #6, took their dog tags and outlined them on a piece of paper and then wrote their names and addresses inside the outline of their tag. Most of the soldiers came from all parts of the USA, but also a few French soldiers were listed. A list was given to every POW so that after the war they could try to keep in touch. There are over 100 names and addresses on the paper. After the war Kenneth kept these sheets of paper in a wallet and seldom removed them.
In May 1945, the war department informed Mrs. Bonnar that her husband, Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar, 29, had been liberated from a German POW camp by the Russians. Sgt. Bonnar was at that time in a rest camp in France waiting transportation home.
Hometown newspaper article from May 29, 1945 regarding Sgt. Bonnar being freed from a POW camp in Germany
T/Sgt. Bonnar was a Purple Heart recipient for injuries he sustained when he parachuted out of his plane. He had fractures in both his feet, but still walked in the Death March and received blows from the butt of the German soldiers’ guns when he would stumble leaving him with permanent disabilities, but he never gave up.
T/Sgt. Bonnar's Purple Heart
On January 24, 1946 T/Sgt. Bonnar received his Notice of Classification Discharge Card. January 26, 1946 "Kenny" received his Report of Separation Honorable Discharge. On one side it lists his vitals, military history including all his awards, the opposite side is his official discharge from service.
Honorable Discharge certificate (left) and a photo taken just before "Kenny's" discharge in 1946 after his liberation from the POW camp in Germany (right)
As many POWs he rarely spoke of his combat experiences over the skies of Europe or his incarceration in several German Prisoner of War camps. He lived with physical aftereffects from being a prisoner of war, but rarely complained.
T/Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar did not receive his Prisoner of War Medal Set until 1987. The POW medal was not authorized until it was approved by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, the POW Medal was created with a grandfather clause making it an approved award to all former Prisoners of War since the beginning of World War I.
T/Sgt. Kenneth Bonnar's Prisoner of War Medal Set
Kenneth Bonnar's widow May 18, 2000 an envelope from the White House with accompanying a letter and certificate. The letter states that the President has requested that the enclosed certificate be sent in memory of her beloved deceased veteran. The certificate states, "The United States Of America honors the memory of Kenneth H. Bonnar - This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States," signed by President Clinton.