Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Richard C. Kirkland - June 16, 2014

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Kirkland joined the Army Air Corps and was trained to be a fighter pilot. During the war, he served in the famous "Flying Knights" fighter squadron, which included Major "Dick" Bong, the great flying ace. Kirkland discusses some of his flying missions and time living in New Guinea, including his brief encounters with Charles Lindbergh and, later on, with General Eisenhower.

After WWII, Richard Kirkland was assigned to test atomic bombs on the Marshall Islands. For our project, he discusses his fruitless search for a lost atomic bomb. Following this assignment, Kirkland spent the Korean War in the Air Force Rescue Service. He enjoyed this work immensely, and discusses  it here in some detail.

Richard Kirkland's work with helicopters carried past his time in the Air Force Rescue Service and into his career working for Howard Hughes' Aircraft division, where he helped to develop and distribute helicopters to every police station in America.

Richard Kirkland moved to Vienna, VA, to raise a family with his wife, Maria. He resides here to this day. An artist since childhood, Kirkland spent his free time in the Army Air Corps drawing a serial comic for his fighter squadron. Still an artist, the walls of his home are lined with his and his wife's paintings.

Read more at Richard Kirkland's website, here.


Joining the Army Air Corps

The Japanese Fishing Boat "Mission"

Meeting Charles Lindbergh

Working in the Jungles of New Guinea

Landing Predicament at Leyte Gulf

Remembering Richard Ira "Dick" Bong

How WWII Fighter Pilots Spent Their Days Off

Working for the Air Force Rescue Service

Meeting General Eisenhower

Searching for the Lost Atomic Bomb

Working with Helicopters (3-part video)

Rescue Work while Stationed at a M.A.S.H. Unit

High Rent at Watergate

Meeting his Wife, Moving to Vienna

Living Next Door to Joe Theismann, Helicopter Rides for the Neighbors

Raising a Family in Vienna, "Peace, Love, & Ice Cream"

All interviews by Sophie Abramowitz and David Shelby