John Warren Campbell was born December 27, 1915 in Elkmont, Limestone County, Alabama to Alonzo Franklin Campbell, a construction worker, and Martha A. (Warren) Campbell. John had two older sisters. In 1920, the family was living in Elkmont. John’s mother apparently passed away some time prior to 1930, when the three children were living with an aunt and uncle in Elkmont. When he registered for the draft in 1940, John was living in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama and working for Max Luther, a prominent local cotton broker.
John enlisted in the US Army Air Corps 2 September 1941 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was selected for flight duty and trained as a navigator, and upon completion of training was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He served in the 352nd Bomb Squadron of the 301st Bombardment Group (Heavy), which flew Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The 301st BG was activated in February 1942 and deployed to England in August 1942 as part of the Eighth Air Force, and in November 1942 was reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force and moved to North Africa.
The 301st was reassigned again in November 1943 to the Fifteenth Air Force and moved to Italy in December 1943, where it bombed strategic targets such as oil centers, communications, and industrial areas. Lieutenant Campbell joined the 301st in June or July 1944 and completed at least 10 missions by the end of October 1944. His obituary states that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. At some point he was trained to operate the H2X Mickey radar set that was used for bombing in darkness or overcast conditions.
On the night of 12 November 1944, Lt. Campbell was flying as H2X radar operator aboard B-17G 42-97738, possibly named "Silver Doll”, assigned on a single aircraft raid to bomb oil fields in Blechhammer, Germany. According to the Missing Air Crew Report, shortly after completing its bomb run in the early hours of 13 November 1944, one of the engines caught fire. The crew attempted to fight the fire but after 20 minutes the order was given to bail out. Four crew members were able to bail out before the left wing burned thru and aircraft spiraled to the ground. Lt. Campbell and five others were unable to exit the aircraft and were killed in the ensuing crash.
John Warren Campbell was initially buried in Germany near the crash site and after the war was reinterred in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Lemay, St. Louis County, Missouri. He is also memorialized at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial.