Joseph Kaelin was born on September 6, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 11, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program on March 11, 1943, receiving his commission as an Ensign and designation as a Naval Aviator on May 1, 1944. After completing carrier training and F6F Hellcat training, Ens Kaelin joined VF-9 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16) in February 1945, and transferred with the squadron to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) in March 1945. He was credited with the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 2 probables and 3 damaged, from March to May 1945. Kaelin left active duty and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve on October 6, 1945, and retired from the reserves as a Captain on April 1, 1973. Joseph Kaelin died on January 1, 2000.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron NINE, attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Okinawa on May 11, 1945. Participating in combat air patrol in defense of our occupation forces at Okinawa, Ensign Kaelin intercepted a numerically superior force of hostile aircraft and, courageously engaging the enemy fighters, shot down three, probably destroyed another and damaged two Japanese planes, thereby completely disrupting the formation and eliminating a dangerous threat to our forces. His skill as an airman and gallant fighting spirit reflect the highest credit upon Ensign Kaelin and the United States Naval Service.