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The History of Kingsley Field and its Namesake
Four miles southeast of Klamath Falls, Oregon, Kingsley Field has a long history in the Klamath Basin. Once a Naval Air Station and active duty Air Force Base, Kingsley Field is now the home of the 173rd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard. Kingsley Field is named for an Oregon World War II hero who was killed in action.
Kingsley Field History
The History of Kingsley Field
Kingsley Field is located four miles southeast of Klamath Falls in south central Oregon's high desert country. Midway between Portland and San Francisco, the location makes it an important link for west coast military bases.
Kingsley Field is named for Second Lieutenant David R. Kingsley; an Oregon World War II hero who was killed in action on June 23, 1944, after a bombing mission over the oil fields at Ploesti, Romania.
The first military presence in Klamath Falls began in 1942 when the U.S. Navy opened the Klamath Falls Naval Air Station. Before their departure in 1946 they built many of the hangars and constructed three paved runways.
In 1954, the U.S. Air Force selected Klamath Falls as an ideal site for the establishment of an all-weather-fighter-interceptor-squadron and an aircraft control and warning squadron. The squadrons filled the gap in the air defense system between Portland and San Francisco. An official dedication of the facilities on July 3, 1956 changed the name of the base to Kingsley Field. The U.S. Air Force operated the base from 1956 to 1970. Then in 1971 the unit relocated and only a small alert detachment remained until 1979.
The 104th Tactical Control Squadron was the first Oregon Air National Guard unit to be stationed at Kingsley Field. They provided ground radar control for fighter aircraft from 1971 to 1981. In 1982, the U.S. Air Force announced a proposal to establish an air defense schoolhouse for F-4 Phantoms under the Air National Guard. Major "Wild Bill" Morris became the squadron commander for the newly formed 8123rd Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron. Captain Bill Cox came down from Portland. Oregon as a full-time instructor pilot to help "Wild Bill" build up the new F-4 schoolhouse. The 8123rd Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron was activated on January 1, 1983, and the first F-4 pilot training class began on February 1, 1983. The school's initial course offered Operational Training Course and Air Defense to four students, taught by three instructors using two F-4C aircraft. A total of nine students graduated the first year.
In September 1995, the Air National Guard assumed the airport tower control from the Federal Aviation Agency as part of the ongoing establishment of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron. The activation ceremony on March 7, 1998 celebrated federal recognition of the new 49 member 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron.
Kingsley Field is now home to the 173rd Fighter Wing, activated on June 27, 1996. The 173rd Fighter Wing's F-15 training mission is aligned under the Air Education and Training Command.
A Proud History
The 114th Fighter Squadron began training pilots in 1983. Known then as the 8123rd Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron, the squadron trained F-4C pilots and F-4C Weapon Systems Officers. In 1984, upon official recognition, the unit's name changed to the 114th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. The designation changed again in 1992 to the 114th Fighter Squad. F-4C pilot training continued until 1988 when the unit converted to a F-16 pilot training schoolhouse.
In 1990, the unit added the F-16 Flight Surgeon training course to its curriculum (Top Knife), the first of its kind in the nation. The "Top Eye" training program for optometrists and the "Top Drill" program for dentists both came on board in 1994. All three programs orient military doctors to the rigors of high performance flight. When the 173rd Fighter Wing was officially activated, the 114th Fighter Squadron became the flying component of the 173rd Fighter Wing and fell under the Operations Group. F-16 pilot training continued for nine years at Kingsley Field and in 1998 the 173rd Fighter Wing converted to the F-15 Eagle. Today, the 114th Fighter Squadron proudly carries on the tradition of training the best fighter pilots in the world.
The 114th Fighter Squadron gets its numerical designation from the 114th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the New York Air National Guard (inactivated in September 1958). The squadron descends from the 439th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) that flew with the 319th Bombardment Group during World War II and was inactivated and allotted to the New York Air National Guard in May 1946. The numerical designation changed to the 114th at that time.
Lt. David R. Kingsley
Kingsley Field's Namesake
Kingsley Field is named for Second Lieutenant David R. Kingsley, an Oregon World War II hero killed in action on June 23, 1944, during a bombing mission over the oil fields at Ploesti, Rumania. Lieutenant Kingsley served as a bombardier on a B-17F aircraft which became severely damaged by intense flak during the bomb run and from attacks by German ME-109 enemy fighters during egress.
When his pilot commanded the crew to bail out, Lieutenant Kingsley immediately began assisting two wounded gunners into their parachute harnesses. The tail gunner's harness, believed to be damaged, could not be located. With disregard for his own means of escape, Lieutenant Kingsley put his own harness on the wounded tail gunner and aided the men in bailing out.
Lieutenant Kingsley's body was later found in the B-17 wreckage. Lieutenant Kingsley, directly responsible for saving the life of the wounded gunner, posthumously received the Medal of Honor award for his heroic, gallant action.
ANG: A Short Story
The Air National Guard as we know it today -- a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force -- was a product of the politics of postwar planning and interservice rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard.
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