Kenneth Kurtz Laud

1918 - 2015

Air Force

Their Story

Kenneth K. Laud was born August 28, 1918, in Pella, Iowa, (some sources say Peoria, Iowa, which is near Pella)[1] the youngest of nine children born to Walter and Matilda (Dunlevy) Laud. He was raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and attended Beacon High School. He was employed at the Clay Products Co. for approximately four years before he enlisted in the armed forces.[2]

Kenny, as he was known to family and friends, enlisted in the 113th Cavalry, Iowa National Guard January 13, 1941, and was stationed at Camp Bowie, Texas. He requested to be transferred to the U. S. Army Air Corps. Laud had a year of training at the Texas Army Base before he went to an Army Air Corps base somewhere in Georgia. Later he was sent to New York City and then to England. In August 1942 he was stationed at Polebrook Field in England.

He was a member of the 8th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, 326th Bomb Squadron. He was the radio operator and waist gunner on a B-17 “Flying Fortress”, Tail number 41-24441 nicknamed “Francis X” after the pilot, 2Lt. Francis Schwartzenbeck.

On October 21, 1942, on a mission to bomb the submarine pens at Lorient, France, the Francis X was shot down. Of the ten men on board the B17 only four survived. Kenny was one of the survivors and was captured and taken to Luft Stalag XVII-B in Krems, Austria.  This was the Stalag featured in the movie Stalag 17. Kenny was a prisoner of war for 925 days. He was liberated on May 3, 1945, after six men from the 13th Armored Division arrived and easily captured the remaining guards who numbered 205.[3] Other units of the 13th Armored soon arrived and organized the evacuation of the POWs by C-47 to France on May 9, 1945.

Staff Sergeant Kenneth K. Laud was the recipient of the WWII Prisoner of War Medal.

The citation reads:

Sergeant Kenneth K. Laud, United States Army Air Forces, was captured by German forces after he was shot down on October 21, 1942, and was held as a Prisoner of War until his return to the U.S. Military Control at the end of hostilities on May 31st, 1945.[4] 

He was also awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal.

After returning from the war, Kenny married Mary Ann Berdahl in 1946. He was self-employed for 65 years. He owned and operated Kenneth K. Laud Concrete Construction, completing his last job at age 93.[5] He enjoyed working and reading about history.

Kenneth Kurtz Laud, 96, of East Moline, Illinois, died Saturday, March 7, 2015, at his home.


Stalag XVII
Prisoner of War Medal

Kenneth Kurtz Laud (1918-2015) – Find a Grave Memorial

Crew of the Francis X photo from Kenneth Kurtz Laud (1918-2015) – Find a Grave Memorial

photo from Photos of Kenneth Kurtz Laud – Find a Grave Memorial

[1] Iowa, U.S., World War II Bonus Case Files, 1947-1954 –

[2] Kenneth Kurtz Laud (1918-2015) – Find a Grave Memorial

[3] Stalag Luft 17b POW German Camp Krems, Austria (

[4] Kenneth Laud – Recipient – (

[5] 08 Mar 2015, 8 – The Dispatch at



Find a Grave, database and images  Kenneth Kurtz Laud (1918-2015) – Find a Grave Memorial accessed 15 June 2022), memorial page for Kenneth Kurtz Laud (28 Aug 1918–7 Mar 2015), Find a Grave Memorial ID 143437027, citing Rock Island National Cemetery, Rock Island, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by GrammaL (contributor 47007314) .

All recipients in the database are verified by source material such as official award citations, narratives and/or synopses from individuals or records from the National Archives.

The Hall of Valor is the world’s largest public database of American military award citations, collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor.

Kenneth Laud – Recipient – ( (Accessed 6/16/2022)

Nazi Prisoner, The Daily Times Davenport, Iowa 18 Jan 1943, Mon Page 16 18 Jan 1943, 16 – The Daily Times at (accessed 6/16/2022)

American Air Museum website records the stories of the men and women of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) who served their country from the UK in the Second World War Home | American Air MuseumHome | American Air Museum Accessed 6/15/2022)

“U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946,”Genealogy Database, Ancestry.Com 08 Mar 2015, 8 – The Dispatch at (Accessed 6/15/2022)

08 Mar 2015, 8 – The Dispatch at

Iowa, U.S., World War II Bonus Case Files, 1947-1954 –

Stalag Luft 17b POW German Camp Krems, Austria (