Franz N. Kanaga – Commander, United States Navy

Fom a contemporary press report:

On July 24, 1945, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Franz Kanaga led a squadron of dive bombers toward the Japanese battleship Hyuga in the inland Sea of Japan, south of the Japanese naval base at Kure. The plan was for the bombers to bomb the ship and take out its guns, and, if possible, sink it.

His squadron was met by heavy anti-aircraft fire, said Riverside resident H. Paul Brehm, then a lieutenant junior grade under Commander Kanaga. Kanaga bombed the ship but his plane was heavily damaged by flak and he was forced to make an emergency landing after losing hydraulic fluid and radio contact.

Only five of the squadron's 13 planes that went to the target made it back. But the Hyuga was sunk in the shallow bay.

Commander Kanaga, a 38-year resident of Redlands and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest medal for valor, died Monday (June 4, 2001) at Braswell's Colonial Care in Redlands, California. He was 84.

Commander Kanaga was born in Detroit on September 29, 1916. He graduated from Northwestern High School and attended Wayne State University. After one and a half years, he took a test for the Naval Academy and was admitted in 1936. He graduated in 1940.

He served in the Navy for 20 years before he retired from active duty in 1960 with the rank of commander. After the war, he attended the University of Michigan and received his master's degree in aeronautical engineering.

“He was well liked, he was a good skipper,” Brehm said. “He led us into battle, put us right over the target, and he put us in the right position for the bombing run, which was instrumental in the sinking of the ship. He was remembered for his airmanship
and his tenacity. He was respected by his officers and men.”

After his retirement from the Navy, Cpmmander Kanaga worked as an aerospace engineer for TRW for approximately 15 years.

Mr. Kanaga is survived by three sons, Norman of Calimesa, Steven of Washington, and Alan of Germany; a daughter, Karen Dallow of El Sobrante; and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Emmerson-Bartlett Memorial Chapel in Calimesa. Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/01/1940 – 07/01/1960
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/29/1916
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/04/2001
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 06/21/2001

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