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Max Kahn, 93, Veteran of World War II and Israe​l's War of Independence

April 16, 2009
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Max Kahn

Max Kahn, 93, a World War II veteran and a veteran of the Machal in the 1948 War of Independence of Israel, died Feb. 11 in Philadelphia.

A native of Cleveland, Kahn lived in a Jewish orphanage and was adopted as a young child. He moved to Philadelphia with his parents, Jacob and Rose Cohen. His mother died when he was 11, and Kahn and his father moved back to Ohio.

During World War II, he served as a tech sergeant, or flight mechanic, in the Army Air Force 305th Bomb Group, 422 Bomb Squadron. Though a licensed pilot, he was colorblind, and therefore served as a bomber flying B-17 planes. He completed 25 missions over Germany and France -- 19 without fighter escorts. Once, he crash-landed in England.

During the war, Kahn designed night-vision goggles while stationed at Wright Field in the Aero Medical Lab. He was awarded the Bronze star, the Air Medal with four oak-leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 1947, Kahn was part of a group of Jewish veterans who volunteered to organize what would later become the birth of the Israeli air force. Kahn served in the Machal in the 1948 War of Independence, trained pilots, fought the ground war and flew 12 missions over Damascus, Syria.

He was honorably discharged from the Machal IAF in June 1949, and in August went to Europe to live for three years, primarily in Italy.

When he returned to the United States, he moved to Philadelphia and then to Southampton, where he and his wife, Jacqueline S. Kahn, raised their daughter. He worked as a lamp designer and a sales representative for furniture companies, retiring at the age of 81.

Earlier, he had changed his name from Max Cohen to Max Kahn since he had fought in a foreign army while still a U.S. citizen.

He was awarded numerous medals from the State of Israel and was honored on many occasions, the most recent in New York City on the USS Intrepid.

For all his accomplishments in Israel, Kahn was profiled several times in the Jewish Exponent, most recently in April 2008.

In addition to his wife, Kahn is survived by his daughter, Heather Ritzer-Nenner, and two grandchildren.

Contributions in his memory can be made to: the American Friends of Magen David Adom-ARMDI, 352 Seventh Ave., Suite 400, New York, N.Y. 10001.

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