A native of Slatington, PA, John R. Kern, Jr. was a member of Der Deutsche Verein and the John Marshall Pre-Law club at Muhlenberg. He also participated in wrestling, cross country, and track. During World War II, Kern served as a navigator on a B-17. On his 27th bombing mission, his plane was shot down over Germany; Kern remained a prisoner of war for the remainder of the conflict. Kern continued his service after World War II, eventually rising to the rank of Major General in the Air Force in 1973. Over the course of his career, Kern was awarded the Legion of Merit, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.