MAJ Earl Robert Kindig
Commanding Officer, 121st Field Artillery BN, 32nd Infantry Division
MIA/KIA 7 February 1944
Saidor, New Guinea
-- Michael Robert Kindig --
Earl Robert Kindig was born in 1915 in the southeast corner of rural Iowa to working class parents. He was "Duke" to childhood friends,
classmates and, eventually, his fellow officers.
In 1934, upon graduation from high school in Washington, Iowa, Duke Kindig hitchhiked across the state to enroll at Iowa State College in Ames.
He worked his way through school, studying forestry science, and was enrolled in the college’s ROTC program. In his senior year, he met and fell
in love with a freshman coed named Ora Clark.
In the spring of 1939, Kindig graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was offered commissions in both the Marine Corps and the Regular Army.
He reluctantly declined the Marine commission, inasmuch as junior officers in that branch of the armed forces were not permitted at that time to marry -
and marriage was very much on his mind. Earl Kindig was commissioned into the Regular Army that summer and promptly married Ora Ilene Clark. The couple
was posted to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where Second Lieutenant Kindig served as aide-de-camp to the 8th Infantry Division's commanding general.
A son, Michael Robert Kindig, was born to Lt. and Mrs. Kindig November 3rd, 1940. In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Department
undertook a program to replace a considerable percentage of the field grade echelon in National Guard units serving in the South Pacific with Regular Army
officers. Earl Kindig was thus reassigned to the 32nd Division, which saw action at Buna Station, New Guinea, in December, 1942, and January, 1943.
Major Kindig spent most of 1943 stationed in Australia recovering from malaria and training troops for another assault landing in New Guinea; that took
place in December when American forces came ashore at Saidor.
On the afternoon of 7 February 1944, Major Kindig, commanding the 121st Field Artillery Battalion, went aloft in a light observation aircraft to direct
fire from his unit on Japanese troops. His plane disappeared and he was presumed to have been killed-in-action by ground fire. "Major Kindig's aircraft
was last seen approximately 18 miles southeast of Saidor flying up the Yaut River Valley," according to the Army casualty report.
Major Kindig was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and the Order of the Purple Heart. Michael Kindig, age 5, accepted the awards on his father's
behalf in 1945. Ora Kindig, who remarried after the war, passed away in 1987.
On June 28th, 1998, Fred Hagen, a Philadelphia businessman who searches for airplanes lost in World War II, found the Kindig aircraft wreck site
approximately 19 miles southeast of Saidor on the banks of the Yaut River. Two days earlier, Hagen had discovered the P-47 aircraft in which Second
Lieutenant George P. Gaffney Jr., a Fifth Air Force fighter pilot, disappeared just five weeks after Major Kindig was lost.
The U. S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, using forensic medical techniques including mitochondrial DNA matching,
subsequently successfully identified Major Kindig's remains. He was laid to rest 30 October 2001 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Major Kindig's son, Michael, and Patricia Gaffney, daughter of Lieutenant Gaffney - whose airplane had been found by Hagen 15 miles from the Gaffney crash
site in New Guinea - were wed in New Haven, Connecticut on June 28th, 2003. The two were drawn together by circumstances that have been variously described
as merely serendipitous to downright miraculous.
The headstones over their fathers' gravesites at Arlington both bear the same inscription: WE SPEAK YOUR NAME.
Michael and Patricia live in Denver, Colorado.