John P. "Jock" Henebry helped pioneer low level anti-ship tactics used to destroy an entire Japanese convoy in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. Henebry was born in Plainfield, Illinois on 14 February 1918. He earned his private pilot license during his senior year at the University of Notre Dame. After graduating in 1940, he entered the Army Air Corps Flying Cadet program. He earned his wings and a commission as a second lieutenant in March 1941. His first assignment was with the 22nd Bomb Group at Langley Field, Virginia, first flying the Douglas B-18 Bolo and later the Martin B-26 Marauder.
In June 1941 he transferred to the 13th Bombardment Group at Orlando, Florida, where he flew the North American B-25 Mitchell. One year later he transferred overseas to the 3rd Attack Group at Charter's Towers, Australia. He flew with and would later command the 90th Bombardment Squadron (Light) which was the first unit to convert the B-25 to a minimum altitude "attack" bomber. These aircraft were outfitted with eight .50 caliber machine guns in the nose and a 300-gallon fuel tank in the lower gun turret. His squadron refined "skip bombing" tactics that General Kenney introduced when he took command of Fifth Air Force. In addition to strikes against shipping, Henebry's squadron attacked airdromes and harbors and provided close air support to the Army and Marines.
At Wewak on the north coast of New Guinea, Kenny's B-25 caught 176 Japanese planes on the ground and wreaked havoc strafing and using parafrag bombs. Henebry was credited with three aerial victories and sinking a surfaced submarine. Later he became the 3rd Attack Group Operations Officer and eventually became Group Commander. As the allies leapfrogged northwest toward the Philippines, Henebry was promoted to colonel and took command of the 360th Air Service Wing first at Nadzab and later at Clark Field. His wing, which served as a Combat Replacement and Training Center, operated a flight of each type of plane employed by the Fifth Air Force. When the war ended, Henebry was on the deck of the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay and was an eyewitness to the Japanese surrender.
By then Henebry had flown 219 combat missions! In April 1946, he went on active reserve status and took command of the 437th Troop Carrier Wing at O'Hare Field near Chicago. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1948. In August 1950, he was recalled to active duty and took the 437th to Japan. On I January 195 1, he took command of the 315th Air Division which operated the Combat Cargo Command in the Far East Air Force during the Korean War. In August 1952 he returned to ready reserve status and, in 1957, was promoted to major general. General Henebry retired in April 1976.
On 3 March 1943 a Japanese convoy streamed to re-supply their beleaguered forces at Lae, New Guinea. Henebry strafed his way to a transport, pulled up to avoid its mast and dropped two bombs. One hit mid-ship at the waterline. He then turned onto the last ship and set it afire with his machine guns. By the end of the attack, the 90th Bomb Squadron had dropped 37 bombs and claimed 17 hits on the 11 ships they attacked. In the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, attack aviation was proven a valuable weapon.