Field Eugene Kindley
|Field Eugene Kindley|
Capt. Field E. Kindley with his pup "Fokker," while stationed in France.
13 March 1896|
Prairie Grove, Arkansas
|Died||2 February 1920
San Antonio, Texas
|Buried at||Hillcrest Cemetery, Gravette, Arkansas|
|Allegiance|| United States
|Service/branch||Kansas National Guard
Royal Air Force (United Kingdom)
Air Service, United States Army
|Years of service||1917 - 1920|
Royal Air Force
|Commands held||141st Aero Squadron
94th Aero Squadron
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
Field Eugene Kindley was born at Prairie Grove in northwestern Arkansas. Kindley's mother died when he was two years old and his father took a position in the Philippines, leaving Kindley to be raised by his grandmother in Bentonville, Arkansas until the age of seven. Kindley joined his father in Manila, where he lived until 1908, when he moved to Gravette, Arkansas to live with his uncle. After completing his education he moved to Coffeyville, Kansas where he became a partner in a motion picture theater.
During his stay in Coffeyville, Kindley enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard. Kindley volunteered for a transfer into the aviation branch of the United States Signal Corps. He attended the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Illinois.
Kindley established himself as an unlucky and somewhat untalented flier, with a series of accidents, mechanical failures and land mishaps. He became part of the first group of American pilots to be transferred to England for combat training in 1917. In the spring of 1918, he completed training and commissioned as a first lieutenant in the American Air Service.
On his first flight, he was assigned to ferry a Sopwith Camel from England to the western front, but crashed on the White Cliffs of Dover. Kindley was sent to hospital to recover. After his release, Kindley was assigned to No. 65 Squadron Royal Air Force, and scored his first aerial victory on 26 June 1918 over Albert, France shooting down the Pfalz D.III of Lt. Wilhelm Lehmann, commander of Jagdstaffel 5.
In July 1918, the United States Army formed the 148th Aero Squadron and assigned Kindley to the unit. Kindley shot down a German Albatros D.V near Ypres and earned the unit its first kill. Kindley was the appointed commanding officer of the 148th and promoted to captain. While with the 148th he scored 11 confirmed kills.
His fourth kill on 13 August 1918 was the Jasta 11 Fokker D.VII of Lothar von Richthofen, brother of "The Red Baron," Manfred von Richthofen. Lothar von Richthofen, one of Germany's finest fliers with 40 confirmed air-to-air victories, was seriously wounded and never flew in combat again.
Kindley scored four more wins in early September. Then, during missions in late September 1918, Kindley earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the British Distinguished Flying Cross. On 24 September, he led a flight of Camels in a successful attack on seven Fokkers near Bourlon Wood, France. Three days later, Kindley earned the Oak Leaf Cluster to the DSC by dropping bombs on and strafing German infantry, destroying a German observation balloon, taking out a German machine gun nest, shooting down an enemy airplane, and scaring two Fokker biplanes away from fellow fliers even after his ammunition had been exhausted.
|Date and time||Opponent||Location||Notes|
|26 June 1918, 2035 hrs||Pfalz D.III||East of Albert, Somme|
|13 July 1918, 0857 hrs||Albatros D.V||Poperinghe|
|3 August 1918, 0930 hrs||Fokker D.VII||Southeast of Ostend|
|13 August 1918, 1352 hrs||Fokker D.VII||North of Roye, Somme||Flown by Lothar von Richthofen|
|2 September 1918, 1150 hrs||Fokker D.VII||South of Rumaucourt|
|5 September 1918, 1720 hrs||Fokker D.VII||Saint-Quentin, Aisne Lake|
|15 September 1918, 1050 hrs||Fokker D.VII||Epinoy|
|17 September 1918, 1300 hrs||Fokker D.VII||Epinoy|
|24 September 1918, 0728 hrs||Fokker D.VII||West of Cambrai|
|26 September 1918, 1325 hrs||Fokker D.VII||East of Bourlon Wood|
|27 September 1918, 0920 hrs||Halberstadt (Unspecified C-series)||Noyelles-sous-Lens/L'Escaut|
|28 October 1918, 1205 hrs||Fokker D.VII||Villers-Pol||Shared with Lt. Jesse Creech|
Postwar military career and death
In 1919, Kindley was offered a contract by a New York-based motion picture company to re-enact his war service. The company offered him $60 per day for two weeks which was an extremely high wage. Kindley refused the job because he thought it might interfere with his army career.
Kindley died in a crash at Kelly Field near San Antonio, Texas during a demonstration flight for General John J. Pershing. A control cable snapped on the SE-5 Kindley was flying. It stalled and fell from an altitude of 100 feet (30 m). Kindley is buried at Hillcrest Cemetery in Gravette, Arkansas.
A city park in Gravette is named for Kindley, as is a high school in Coffeyville, Kansas. Kindley Air Force Base, also known as Kindley Field, a World War II airfield in Bermuda, was named in his honor, as was Kindley Field in the Philippines, a small auxiliary airstrip on Corregidor. The Kindley home has been acquired by the Gravette City Museum. Kindley's personal effects are on display at the Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A Sopwith Camel F.1 said to be Kindley's and claimed to be the only surviving Camel in the United States, was used during the filming of The Blue Max, released in 1966, and is currently on loan to the Aerospace Education Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- American Aces of World War I. Norman Franks, Harry Dempsey. Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84176-375-6, ISBN 978-1-84176-375-0.