Raymond Clyde


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Raymond Clyde Kerns

Apr 26 1921 - Feb 06 2008

Raymond Clyde Kerns, a career officer of the United States Army, passed away at his home in Plano, Texas, on February 6, 2008, at the age of 86. He was born April 26, 1921, in an area of rural Kentucky known as Buzzard Roost, the first child of Jennings Neal Kerns and Pansy Victoria Dorton Kerns. He quit school after the eighth grade to help on his dad's small tobacco farm. At 19, he was playing guitar with friends at an amateur contest in Ohio when he met 15-year-old singer Dorothy Helen Lane. That night, he went home and told his mother, "I just met the girl I'm going to marry." He wasn't sure how he was going to support a wife, but the answer came in the form of the classic "Uncle Sam Wants You" poster. He joined up and was sent to Hawaii, where he was among those who defended against the attack on December 7, 1941. At the age of six, Raymond Kerns had seen Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" glide across the sky over his family's farm, and he'd wanted to fly ever since. He became one of the first forward observers of the Army Air Corps, flying a Piper L-4 above the battlefields of the South Pacific to help the artillery target its fire and provide guidance for American ground troops. On January 5, 1943, Raymond Kerns and Dorothy Lane were married in Denton, Texas, where he was taking additional flight training. They made the Army their life, and over the years, they were stationed in Japan, Germany, and many stateside locations, including Camp Hanford, Washington; Washington, DC; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Fort Hood, Texas. Their daughter Carol was born in 1956, and their son Noel in 1961. Raymond Kerns was on active duty with the U.S. Army for 32 years, serving in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He retired in 1972 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Among his many decorations are the Silver Star, the Air Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during World War II, when his aircraft was shot down by Japanese troops who continued to fire on him from shore as he floated near his sinking plane. After retirement, Raymond Kerns entered the University of Texas at Austin and earned a degree. He also became the first president of the 89th Field Artillery Battalion Association, wrote the 89th's official history, and published the Association's highly-regarded newsletter for over a decade. His book about serving as a liaison pilot during World War II, titled "Above The Thunder," will be published in the fall of 2008 by Kent State University Press in Ohio. Raymond Clyde Kerns was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Earl Kerns of Bowling Green, Kentucky, who passed away just over a week earlier. He is survived by his brother Gerald Kerns of Mayfield, Kentucky; his sister Carolyn Kerns Murry of Jamestown, Ohio; his sister Peggy Watkins Fealy of Georgetown, Texas; his brother Jim Kerns of Moorehead, Kentucky; his daughter Carol Marie Kerns and son Noel Martin Kerns of Plano, Texas; his grandson Grant Raymond Kerns, also of Plano; and his wife Dorothy Helen Lane Kerns. They had recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. A visitation will be held at the Turrentine Jackson Morrow funeral home at Ridgeview Memorial Park from 6:00 to 8:00 on Sunday evening. Raymond Clyde Kerns will be interred with full military honors at the National Cemetery in Dallas, Texas, at 2:00 on Monday, 11 February 2008. His highest military award, the Silver Star, will be presented to his widow.
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