2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley: Hero of the 97th

  • Published
  • By SrA Jesse Lopez
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Leaders are not always determined by the rank of an individual but by the heart of one. June 23rd, marks the anniversary of the valiant actions of Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley, 97th Bombardment Group bombardier. Over 70 years later, Kingsley's example of self-sacrifice and service before self are reflected in the Core Values of today's Airman.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award that can be awarded to an armed forces member for heroism in military action. Kingsley became the first and only Medal of Honor recipient from the now 97th Air Mobility Wing.

Everyone has the capacity to become a hero. As young Airmen, achieving such a feat can be as simple as carrying out the mission.

During World War II, Kingsley served as a bombardier on a U.S. Army Air Corps B-17 Flying Fortress. On June 23, 1944, during an air raid into Romania, his aircraft was badly damaged by enemy fire and forced to drop out of flight formation during which, two gunners were badly wounded.

After releasing his payload, Kingsley administered aid to the tail gunner and then proceeded to aid the ball gunner while continuing to take enemy fire.

The pilot gave the order to bail out and as Kingsley helped the wounded men prepare to jump, he noticed the tail gunner's parachute was missing. Kingsley removed his own parachute and strapped it onto the wounded man.

This was not an impulsive decision nor was it for glory. To Kingsley, he made the only choice he could, to consciously give up any hope of survival by giving his parachute away as their aircraft met its inevitable demise.

Kingsley was last seen standing in the bomb bay as the plane crashed minutes later.

For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on April 9, 1945. Kingsley, 25 years old at his death, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia Section 34.