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Kana, John “Johnny”

1924-2012

John “Johnny” Kana, 87, of Houston, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 in Houston.

John was born in Hostyn, Texas on December 28, 1924, the son of the late Frank J. Kana and Emile (Cernoch) Kana and the grandson of John and Marie Kana. He married Frances Cernosek in Holman, Texas on November 8, 1948. They were married 60 years before her passing on July 8, 2009. She was the love of his life and a devoted partner. After her passing, life was never complete and they can now be together eternally in Heaven.

John was very proud of his Czech heritage having grown up on his family’s farm in Hostyn and attending school in Hostyn. Throughout his life, he attended many of the Czech social functions in the communities surrounding the Houston and La Grange area. He was a past charter member of the POLKA Lovers Club of America and one of his greatest enjoyments was dancing the polka and waltzing to the tunes of his favorite Czech bands with his wife.

John was also proud to serve his country in WWII by joining the U.S. Navy in April, 1944. He took his training in San Diego, California and was then assigned to a destroyer escort, the USS Dennis (DE 405). He participated in numerous island invasions in the Pacific. Beginning on October 12, 1944, the Dennis screened the escort carriers and supplied the air cover for the invasion of Leyte. Arriving at Leyte on October 17, 1944, the Dennis joined her carriers (the combined unit was designated as Seventh Fleet Task Unit 77.4.3, radio call sign, Taffy III). History was made as they fought a gallant action with the Japanese counter-attacking force in the Battle of Samar phase of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Dennis rescued 434 survivors from the bombed St. Lo. For this action the Dennis shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to “Taffy III” and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars. In this battle, John was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. He was discharged from the U.S. Navy in February, 1946 having been previously awarded the American Campaign Medal and the WWII Victory Medal.

John and his wife attended many of the Dennis Shipmate Reunions held throughout the country. As the number of the Dennis shipmates diminished, the reunion was combined with the survivors of the St. Lo. These reunions were a highlight of his life. He loved to listen and tell the stories of his battle days with his comrades and with his family.

After his discharge from the Navy, John moved to Houston in 1947 and found employment at Wyatt Industries, where he was employed for 37 years until the shop was closed. He then went to work for General Welding Company until he retired in 1988.

John was a member of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Houston, Texas and a member of the Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hostyn, Texas. He was a member of the Father Diefenbach Knights of Columbus Council 4550 in which he was awarded a 50 year pin in April, 2011. He was a member of the VFW Post 8790 of Spring Branch, Houston, Texas.

John was a caring and loving husband, father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather and was lovingly called “Papa John” by his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He lived a full and incredible life and although he will be truly missed, he is at peace and has found eternal life with his wife in Heaven.

He is survived by daughter, Patricia Guinn and husband, Fred of Baytown; son, Richard Kana and wife, Susan of Lexington; two brothers: Willie Kana and wife, Dorothy, Frank Kana, Jr.; two sisters: Rosie Hall and husband, A.F., Agnes Niesner and numerous nieces and nephews; five grandchildren: Stephen Guinn and wife, Paige, Travis Guinn and wife, Teri, Johnathan Kana and wife, Elyse, Matthew Kana and wife, Amanda, Katy Kana and fiancé, Matt Weintritt; four great grandchildren: Kara Frances Guinn, Hunter Owen Guinn, Claire Elizabeth Guinn and Marin Gayle Guinn.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; granddaughter, Crystal Dawn Kana; brother, Stanley Kana and wife, Lillian; two brothers-in-law: Ben Kolek and Ben Niesner; and sister-in-law, Emily D. Kana.

Source: Koenig & Strickland Funeral Home