Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

×

Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

Captain Field Eugene Kindley | Arkansas Military Veterans' Hall of Fame

Captain Field Eugene Kindley

Captain Kindley, deceased, of Gravette earned two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary heroism in 1918 during World War I and ranked 3rd in the number of enemy aircraft downed with 12 confirmed kills. Arkansas’s only Air Ace of World War I.

Field Kindley was born on March 13th, 1896 in a rural area near Pea Ridge Arkansas. After High School graduation, Kindley had several jobs before settling in Coffeyville Kansas, to become a Movie Theater Manager. He later enlisted in the state's National Guard. Kindley transferred to the aviation branch of the Army Signal Corps and was among the first class of American Pilots sent from Ground School to England for Flight Training on September 1917. 

In July 1918, the Americans formed the 148th Squadron, which was assigned to serve in the British sector with the RFC's 65th Wing near Albert, France. Kindley was one of the first Pilots posted to the new unit. On July 13th, Kindley earned the 148th’s first victory by shooting down a German Albatross D-3 over Ypres.  The downing earned Kindley brief celebrity status at the British front, and he soon became the commanding officer of the 148th.

Later promoted to Captain on February 24th 1919, Kindley’s 12 confirmed kills ranked him third in aircraft shot down during the war by Air Corps personnel. Kindley’s most memorable day of combat was September 27, 1918. Kindley began the sortie by dropping four small bombs on a group of German transports. Climbing from the attack, he destroyed an Observation Balloon and then strafed a German Infantry column that had pinned down a British unit. Another strafing run on a German machine-gun emplacement drew an attack upon his Sopwith from a German Halberstadt. Kindley wheeled right to destroy the Halberstadt for his 11th kill. He continued to strafe German Infantry until out of ammunition returning to his home base at Baizieux, Kindley noticed two Germans attacking an Allied plane. He jumped into the dogfight without ammunition in hopes of scaring off the two Fokker Biplanes. The bluff work. For this furious period of just over two hours of combat, Kindley earned his Oak Cluster and the British Distinguished Flying Cross. His final action came on October 28th with his twelve kill, a Fokker near Bapaume, France. 

After the war, Kindley was posted through a succession of squadrons in Europe and then Stateside in the New York area, including occasional public relations duty. He received his last post on December 17, 1919, as the Commanding Officer of the 94th Aero Squadron, made famous by Rickenbacker during the war, at Kelly Field near San Antonio, Texas. His final assignment was a flight demonstration of SE-5 Biplanes for General John J Pershing in early February 1920. On February 1st, the day before Persians visit, Kindley rehearsed the simulated bombing run. Diving into his target, he discovered a group of enlisted men that had wandered into the area. In an attempt to avoid the troops, he pulled back on the stick, resulting in an engine stall and failure of critical support wires in the wing. The SE-5 fell from an altitude of almost 100 feet killing Kindley. Kindley's body was returned to Gravette for burial; several monuments remain to the World War I Flying Ace. Gravitz City Park, a Coffeyville High School, and a World War II Air Base in Bermuda were all named for him.

Back to 2015 Inductees