Kenneth Jahnke; phony Pearl Harbor survivor

| November 12, 2015

Jahnke and Hugh Hewitt

One of our readers sent us their work on this character, Kenneth Jahnke, who claims to have retired from the Navy as a Commander. He claims that he was a seaman on the USS OKLAHOMA on December 7th, 1941 when the ship was sunk in Pearl Harbor. We wrote about it the other day, when DPAA released the information that they’d recovered the final 61 service members who died of the 429 total. Jahnke was born April 12, 1928 – so he was actually 13 years old on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, although he claims that he was 17.

He goes on to claim that he fought in several battles during the Second World War, that he went on to serve in the Korean War and finally Vietnam. Here’s his bio from the Veterans’ History Project at the Library of Congress;

Kenneth Jahnke VHP profile1

Kenneth Jahnke VHP profile2

We learned a long time ago that the Library of Congress openly admits that they don’t check the veracity of the veterans that they interview, so it’s really not a History Project as I understand the terms, but rather a bar-room bullshit session without the beer.

And that’s what this is – Bullshit. Jahnke joined the Navy in 1946 – a year after the war ended. He left the service in February 1954. He never served on any of the ships that he claimed to serve upon. And, oh, he was a seaman E-3 when he left the Navy – not a commander. He did serve at Pearl Harbor but well after the Japanese had surrendered.

Kenneth Jahnke FOIA

On December 5, 2014, Hugh Hewitt had Jahnke on his radio program and “Commander” Jahnke told the story about how he’d been blown off of the USS OKLAHOMA and rescued by a whaler. Here’s that 22-minute portion of the segment. Our reader tried to get Hewitt to correct the record, but it seems that he was too busy with other issues. He wasn’t too busy to have a complete fraud for filler on his show, though.

In the interview, Jahnke claims that he’s in this iconic photo of General MacArthur when he returned to the Philippines;

MacArthur-ashore-in-Philippines

Our tipster found these inconsistencies in Jahnke’s radio interview;

1) He said he went from the hospital to the USS O’Bannon, and fought in Midway, the Coral Sea and Tarawa – but the O’Bannon didn’t leave Boston until August 1942 (http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd450txt.htm) – that’s two months after Midway and three months after the Coral Sea. And during Tarawa (November 1943), she was at least 1200 miles away at Vella Gulf/Tulagi, or else steaming back to the west coast for repairs that lasted until spring.

2) He said he commanded the USS Lloyd Thomas (DD-764), but he’s not included in their list of commanders:

http://dd764.org/scuttlebutt3/about-us/commanders/

3) He said he was on the O’Bannon, escorting the Missouri into Tokyo Bay on September 1st, 1945; after the war, he said he served in Alaska aboard the USS Bagaduce, a sea-going tug. But the Bagaduce was stationed in San Diego and San Francisco during the war, and decommissioned there June 22nd, 1946 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Bagaduce_%28AT-21%29).

Then there are smaller things that don’t make sense:

4) He was on MacArthur’s staff at Leyte in October 1944, and waded ashore right behind MacArthur – so he couldn’t have still been on the O’Bannon, since the O’Bannon escorted reinforcements to Leyte, then spent the battle patrolling the entrances to Leyte Gulf – she wasn’t anywhere near MacArthur and the USS Nashville when he went ashore. But he was back on the O’Bannon to escort the Missouri into Tokyo Bay – he couldn’t have still been on MacArthur’s staff, because MacArthur stayed in Japan when the O’Bannon sailed home (http://destroyerhistory.org/fletcherclass/index.asp?pid=45002). So he went from the pretty busy O’Bannon, to MacArthur’s staff, then back to the O’Bannon, all as a junior enlisted sailor?

5) He somehow made E3 (Seaman 1st Class) in the couple months between enlistment and Pearl Harbor, while still 17 years old – that stretches credulity, to get two promotions, in that period of time, at that age.

6) Seamen First Class were Pay Grade 5 (http://world-war-2.wikia.com/wiki/United_States_Navy_Rank_Insignia), and in 1942 they made $66/month, not $19/month. (http://www.cv6.org/company/muster/organization.htm#Grades)

7) He sure wasn’t he only Navy survivor at the 2010 memorial service: this site shows some photos from the 2010 memorial service: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/national-park-service-historian-daniel-martinez-speaks-in-news-photo/107380549

8) How was he physically able to spend 8-10 hours pulling drowning men from the ocean after sustaining injuries so severe during the torpedo attack that when he got to the Naval Hospital back in Long Beach, they thought he’d lose his legs and an arm?

9) Finally, seriously – he thinks he still has that flag he was about to hoist on the USS Oklahoma, somewhere back in his house?!?!?!?

Yeah, I know, he’s an 87-year-old man just telling some made-up war stories, you know, until he starts making his false stories part of the historical narrative like this old liar has done. He tells Hewitt that he’s never kept up with any other sailors who shared his experiences in the war. Who believes that? We all keep connected to folks who lived the things that we did. But, of course, he didn’t because anyone who was there knew that he wasn’t.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (29)

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  1. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    This old asshole was once a young asshole. He gets no consideration for his age. In fact, BECAUSE he was alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and BECAUSE he presumably read the war news and listened to it on radio, and BECAUSE he actually served for a time in the Navy, the SOB deserves double doses of anything he gets. Asshole.

    • NECCSEABEECPO says:

      Exactly, why do these ass holes fabricate a hole lie and it is on the back and honorable service of all of us. Now this is how the public see’s us and so now if they here a true fact it will be fiction in their eye’s.

  2. Marine_7002 says:

    Here’s the link to Hugh’s contact page:

    http://www.hughhewitt.com/contact-us/

    Drop him a few polite lines and tell him what you think of Jahnke’s bullshit stories and fairy tales.

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      I’m afraid he’s too busy apologizing to MSNBC to give a shit. I never heard of this Hewitt guy but my impression of him is not favorable.

  3. Old Trooper says:

    8 years in the Navy and left as an E-3? No awards? No Korean War decorations? Yeah, this guy had some issues.

    • NECCSEABEECPO says:

      Yep a shit bag!!!!!!

    • Instinct says:

      You have to be a major screw up to not make third class in all that time.

      • Hondo says:

        Yep. In nearly 8 years and no GCM, plus discharged as an E3 – after serving throughout the entire Korean War.

        Doesn’t exactly scream “super sailor” does it?

        If he’s been medically-validated as being in the early stages of dementia, I can cut him a pass. That can make people believe outrageous crap actually happened.

        Otherwise, he’s nothing but a old LSoS bastard. In that case screw him.

        • SSG E says:

          Well, that Veterans History Project page Jonn snapshotted was last modified in 2012, so the dementia would have to have been full-blown three years ago…

    • Bobo says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m guessing that, in 9 years, he made, and lost, 3rd class a few times.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    Do these people really think that there are no records of anything? Or that no one checks those records, for Pete’s sake?

    This is one pathetic old gasbag. I hope he goes to confession before he hits the end.

    • NECCSEABEECPO says:

      Their dumb ass’s and they started there lie before the internet or just don’t get the internet. Dumb ass POS’s……

  5. GDContractor says:

    Here’s more of his lies and a photo. Apparently he received a pretty plaque from Newman the mail carrier.
    http://thepinoyweekly.com/?p=57913

    • Bobo says:

      I’m thinking that a few e-mails to the “reporter” might be in order and see if he’d like to do a follow up about guys are who lie about being at Pearl Harbor.

    • CLAW says:

      The best line out of that article is this:

      “He retired as full commander in 1965 with a rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, one step above ensign or equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army”

      WTF is that? I mean, really, WTF is that? No wonder we knuckle draggers from the dirt services can never figure out the Navy ranks.

      But maybe that’s where MSgt/COL George Phillips picked up on his non-existent rank.

  6. Skippy says:

    So I Guess he is OG or OS Turd ???? LMAO…
    the scary thing here is they are writing school books
    based on his BULLSHIT ! ! ! !
    this shouldn’t be a surprise being the media doesn’t seem able to check facts anymore. let alone do there job…

  7. HMCS (FMF) ret. says:

    Looks like this loser has been rocking the lie for a while, and in the area I grew up in! Probably an older version of Bernastyass who loves to scream at the kids to get off his lawn…

  8. Dave Hardin says:

    Just when I thought Jonn was going soft.

  9. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    It’s always the same with these turds, freaking liars…

  10. 3/17 Air Cav says:

    The lying old coot is going for the Embellisher/phony grand slam. In one article he also claims Korea and Vietnam service!

  11. OWB says:

    Well, golly gee whizzers – I, too, survived Pearl Harbor, if having been there and making it back to shore without incident qualifies as surviving. Which I really kinda do, but would never claim it given the likelihood of someone misunderstanding that I meant it only as a tourist on a casual visit to the Harbor. And because doing so would be to dishonor those family members and friends who actually were there or otherwise serving on December 7, 1941.

    What a lying PoS. Lowlife. Pond scum. Idiot.

  12. gitarcarver says:

    Jonn wrote:

    He tells Hewitt that he’s never kept up with any other sailors who shared his experiences in the war. Who believes that? We all keep connected to folks who lived the things that we did.

    I believe it. Not that I believe it from this clown, but I believe it.

    My father worked at the Glen L. Martin Company making seaplanes before the war. He enlisted in the Marines and I have his discharge papers.

    Never once did he speak to me or anyone I know about his service. Never once did he stay in touch with others from the war. It was just not something he talked about.

    It could be that he never talked about it because it was in the past and he didn’t want to relive it. It could be because he had a two brothers killed in action. In addition he had a nephew that died in the war as well.

    My dad was a good guy in all the right ways. He worked with community organizations, helped with charities, raised a family, etc. When I asked him about the VFW or something like it, he said he wasn’t interested in reliving the past, but more of the future.

    Some people handle what they saw and went through differently than others.

    I am not trying to dismiss what was written about or support Jahnke, but the comment that people that don’t share experiences lends to disbelieving them or doubting their service is a stretch in my opinion.

  13. Just An Old Dog says:

    Dementia?… I’m no expert on it but the few people I have dealt with that are suffering from it have LAPSES of memory.
    I had a conversation this week with a veteran who was starting to have problems.
    It bothered him that he couldn’t remember my name a few minutes after we started talking.
    Point is that in the interaction Ive had none of these people CREATED a past, especially one that was so detailed because they couldnt remember things.

    • Hondo says:

      JAOD: dementia has many symptoms. Most lose short-term memory (that’s generally the first tip off). Some progress to more general memory loss and other symptoms.

      However, some persons with dementia in the early stages also often start “mixing and blending” memories. In particular, they often blend memories of things that actually happened to them with stories they recall about things that happened to others – and then swear the result happened to them. And they believe it did.

      I’ve seen it personally in a relative. Sad, but it does happen.

      That’s why dementia is the only time I’ll give a mil fake a pass. In such a case, we may be talking someone who actually believes the BS they’re spouting – and has a valid medical reason to be given a pass, unlike liars who’ve simply lied long enough that they’ve deluded themselves.

      I don’t think that’s the case here, if he was spouting the same BS 3 years ago, though. At his age, dementia would generally progress pretty quickly.

  14. jedipsycho (Certified Space Shuttle Door Gunner) says:

    What a dishonorable old fart he is. Spitting in the faces of the *real* survivors of Pearl. Some of whom are relations of mine. Turd.

  15. Jarhead says:

    There’s just something certain gullible folks are fascinated by the war stories of older men. It’s easy to give them a pass if they are in their mid 80’s and appear to be telling the truth. Right now a friend and I are working on this 80 some year old guy over at Ft. Rucker. More full of shit than a three year-old Butterball turkey. Lest any of us ever get to the point to where we need attention so bad that we make shit up. My anti-social behavior would not allow me to open that door.
    Guess it’s a far stretch to say certain agencies will allow anyone in who can’t pass a general Pizze shop?

  16. Green Thumb says:

    The Veterans’ History Project; what a joke.

    I wonder if this old, gnarled turd is a member of the Order of Oddfellows.

    I also wonder if he is related to another False Commander down there in Merritt Island at All-Points Logistics? Seem to be a popular rank these days.