October 28, 1918: Lieutenant Kindley Scores His 12th Victory

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The most famous member of the United States Army Air Service 94th Aero Squadron, the fabled Hat in the Ring Squadron, was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s Ace of Aces with 26 victories.  Another notable flier in the unit was Lieutenant Field Eugene Kindley.  He scored his last victory on October 28, 1918.  His most notable feat was shooting down, on August 13, 1918, Lothar Von |Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron, Manfred Von Richtofen.  With 40 kills Lothar was a formidable pilot.  He survived the clash, but because of his wounds he never returned to combat flying.

 

 

 

In the above photo he is the man in the center holding his dog Fokker.  During the War he earned two Distinguished Service Crosses:

 

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Field E. Kindley, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Bourion Wood, France, September 24, 1918. Lieutenant Kindley attacked a formation of seven hostile planes (type Fokker) and sent one crashing to the ground.

 

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Field E. Kindley, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Marcoing, France, September 27, 1918: Flying at a low altitude, First Lieutenant Kindley bombed the railway at Marcoing and drove down an enemy balloon. He then attacked German troops at a low altitude and silenced a hostile machine gun, after which he shot down in flames an enemy plane (type Halberstadt) which had attacked him. Lieutenant Kindley has so far destroyed seven enemy aircraft and driven down three out of control.

 

After the War he command the 94th.  Tragically he died on February 1, 1920 at age 23.  Like so many pioneering aviators he died young in a crash.   Flying a simulated dive bombing mission, in preparation for a visit by General Pershing the next day, he pulled up on the stick to avoid a group of enlisted men who had wandered into the area.  The engine stalled and  wing  cables snapped, sending the SE-5 hurtling to the ground from 100 feet.  A time when daring exceeded the technology of the day, a somber fact that all aviators of the day knew and accepted as the price to fly.

 

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