Field Eugene Kindley spent a very short time in his life in Kansas, but from Coffeyville he went forward to become a World War I ace.

Kindley was born March 13, 1896 near Prairie Grove, Arkansas.  He moved about as a child, as his mother passed away when he was two, and his father lived for awhile in the Philippines.  After he completed his education, Kindley moved to Coffeyville, where he was a partner in a motion picture theater.  He also enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard.

He later transferred to the aviation branch of the United States Signal Corps.  His early career gave no indication of what was to become:  descriptions came forth of being an untalented flier, accident prone,  planes subject to mechanical failures, and landing mishaps.  Still, he completed training and received his commission as a first lieutenant.  His first flight was to ferry a Sopwith Camel across the English Channel, but he crashed into the White Cliffs of Dover.

But Kindley’s luck soon changed.  First assigned to the Royal Air Force’s No. 65 Squadron and then to the American 148th Aero Squadron, he would go on to score twelve kills.  Among them was a plane piloted by Lothar von Richthofen, brother of Manfred von Richthofen, “The Red Baron.”  Von Richtofen was injured badly and left unable to fly again.

By 1920, Captain Kindley was the commanding officer of the 94th Aero Squadron, but his luck changed back.  During a demonstration flight for General Pershing at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas on February 2, 1920, Kindley was killed when his plane crashed.  He was buried with family in Arkansas.

In 1931 a new high school building in Coffeyville was named for Kindley, and it remains in use today.

Several sites have information about Kindley, including this one:



Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.