One small, southern Oregon base finds its name in the history of World War II with the story of Lt. David R. Kingsley, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the war. Kingsley Field works to remind Airmen of his sacrifice and the heritage he left behind.
At the front entrance to the base sits a memorial is designed with a piece of the B-17 aircraft that crashed in Bulgaria during WWII—with Kingsley still in it. Kingsley made the ultimate sacrifice, taking off his parachute and strapping it on a wounded member of the crew when the call to bailout was made—saving their life at the cost of his own.
As told by Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing, in the article 173rd Fighter Wing dedicates new F-15 flagship, in honor of the 75th anniversary of that heroism, the 173rd Fighter Wing commissioned a special design for an F-15 aircraft with ideas from Kingsley Airmen and the local community.
“One submission we really liked was from Staff Sgt. Sabrina Kelley,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Draper, who organized the commemorative paint scheme. “The aircraft was painted in the color and camouflage scheme of a B-17.”
Additionally, Master Sgt. Kyle Hood’s 10-year-old son, Carson, submitted a very well-drawn pencil sketch of David R. Kingsley’s portrait behind a Crater Lake scene, which was integrated into the proposed vertical tail murals.
Some of the other design aspects included using B-17 bomber black and white invasion stripes, the P-51 style star and bars, Army Air Corps Bombardier Wings, and David Kingsley’s signature, which was replicated from a letter he wrote while serving in WWII.
“A lot of planning and work has gone into this to give us a flagship to be proud of,” said Capt. Richard Schuster, 173rd Maintenance Group. “The team originally wanted this aircraft to be done early this year, but logistical considerations and approval processes through higher headquarters delayed that until now. This really worked to our advantage, as the one-year approval would not have allowed us to share the aircraft with those visitors coming to our Sentry Eagle exercise and open house—now we can.”
Because the 173rd Fighter Wing corrosion control facility, commonly referred to as the paint barn, isn’t suitable for painting an entire aircraft it was flown to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for painting.
Some of the wing’s most experienced painters made the trip to the Southern California desert and applied all of the designs. The aircraft returned to base wearing its proud attire, Dec. 13, 2019.
After a few finishing touches the aircraft, the wing will host a dedication ceremony for the aircraft on January 10, 2020. With Kingsley’s selfless service at the forefront, the wing will also mark the beginning of the New Year with a focus on Airmen and their families.
Additionally, the aircraft will make its first major trip to Tucson, Ariz., to fly with the 162nd Fighter Wing for two weeks in January 2020.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force via Scramble Magazine
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