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Votes

Brief: A Witness to History

Vienna resident Richard C. Kirkland in his home aviation museum.

Vienna resident Richard C. Kirkland in his home aviation museum. Photo Contributed

Vienna resident Richard C. Kirkland, an 89-year-old veteran pilot, author and artist, joined the Army after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, and flew 103 combat missions in the famous Flying Knights fighter squadron with America’s greatest ace, Major Dick Bong. He also flew with Charles Lindbergh, and in the post-war atomic bomb tests. In the Korean War, Kirkland flew 69 helicopter rescue missions including the 8055 MASH, home of the “real” Hawkeye. After military service, he joined Howard Hughes’ aircraft division as a demonstration pilot.

Kirkland speaks from personal experiences in American history including his associations with personalities such as General Douglas MacArthur, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes, and others. Kirkland has written numerous articles and books including his latest, Wide Place in the Road, a story of love and war during “The Greatest Generation,” a period of American History he lived through and immortalized with his writing, on-scene paintings and sketches. These are part of Kirkland’s home aviation museum, which attracts many visitors in the D.C. area.