Kennedy, Joseph W. (Joseph William), 1916-1957

Alternative names
Birth 1916-05-30
Death 1957-05-05

Biographical notes:

Joseph W. Kennedy was born May 30 (or 31), 1916 in Nacogdoches, Texas. Kennedy was a graduate of Nacogdoches High School. In 1935, he received his BA from Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College, received his MA from the University of Kansas in 1937, and received his PhD from the University of California Berkeley in 1939. Kennedy began teaching chemistry at the University of California Berkeley upon graduation. He graduated from Unites States Military Academy at West Point in June 1941.

Kennedy was stationed with the US Army 591st Engineer Boat Regiment. He then followed a tour of duty at Camp Bowie, Camp Bullis, Camp Edwards and Fort Belvoir, after which he was sent to England, arriving in August 1942. In December of that year, his unit landed in North Africa. Kennedy was absent for the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943 because he was granted a 54-day furlough to visit his dying mother. Afterward, Kennedy returned to his unit in North Africa. In March 1943, he was in the first wave of Project Y recruits, arrived at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a premier national security research institution, to head the chemistry and metallurgy divisions of the Manhattan Project. Kennedy's greatest achievement as an American scientist was participation as one of four co-researchers in the discovery of plutonium. In December 1943, his Engineer Boat Regiment returned to England and participated in the Invasion of Normandy (Utah Beach), service for which he was promoted to the rank of major. After the war, he became a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, dying on May 5, 1957 after a battle with cancer.

From the description of Joseph W. Kennedy World War II letters, 1910-1944. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 694866455


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  • World War, 1939-1945


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  • United States (as recorded)