William L. Kenly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
William Lacy Kenly
William Lacy Kenly circa 1918 by Bachrach.jpg
Kenly circa 1918
Born February 18, 1865
Baltimore, Maryland
Died January 10, 1928 (1928-01-11) (aged 62)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1889–1919
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)

William Lacy Kenly (February 18, 1865 – January 10, 1928) was a major general in the United States Army. During World War I, he was a leader of a progenitor of the United States Air Force, the United States Army Air Service.[1]

Early life[edit]

William L. Kenly was born on February 18, 1864, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Major William L. Kenly and Marion Hook. His father participated in the United States Civil War. His immigrant ancestor was his great great grandfather Rev. Daniel Kenly who emigrated from Scotland to Maryland in the 1700s.[2]

Military career[edit]

He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, 12 June 1889, in field artillery and took part on August 16, 1899 in the Battle of Angeles, in the Pampanga Province during the Philippine–American War.[3][2]

On September 3, 1917, Brigadier General Kenly became the first Chief of Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France, effectively taking control away from the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. Previously a field artillery commander, he did not have experience leading an air force, and Billy Mitchell wielded a large amount of influence in the AEF's operational decisions. Kenly was replaced a short time later by Brig. Gen. Benjamin Foulois.

Kenly then returned to the United States to become Director of Military Aeronautics from May 20, 1918 to August 28, 1918.[2] During this period, he was the titular head of the newly established United States Army Air Service. He retired in 1919 and King George of Great Britain awarded Kenly the honor of Companion of the Order of the Bath.[4]


Kenly died of a heart attack on January 10, 1928 in Washington, D.C..[1] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


  1. ^ a b "Col. Kenly Dies Of Heart Attack. Former Chief of Air Service of American Forces in France Stricken in Washington. Won Three Decorations. Veteran Served As Director Of Military Aeronautics Before His Retirement In 1919". New York Times. January 12, 1928. Retrieved 2012-10-23. Colonel William L. Kenly, first chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and later director of military aeronautics for the duration of the war, died suddenly ... 
  2. ^ a b c Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. pp. 209–210. ISBN 1571970886. OCLC 40298151. 
  3. ^ Philippine-American War, 1899–1902 by Arnaldo Dumindin
  4. ^ The Los Angeles Times, KING GEORGE HONORS OFFICER WE OUSTED, Apr 17, 1919, page 1.
Military offices
New title
Post established
Chief of Air Service, AEF
September 3 – November 27, 1917
Succeeded by
Benjamin Foulois

External links[edit]