Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Silver Wings Speakers Luncheon: Richard Kirkland Author, Pilot, Aviation Executive, January 28th.
Richard Kirkland was a kid who grew up in the California wine country, and flew 103 combat missions in P38s with the famous Flying Knights squadron in New Guinea during World War II. He is credited with One kill, a Zero, at about the same time Charles Lindberg, also scored one in the same general area.
Kirkland was later involved in atomic bomb testing on Eniwetok Atoll in 1950 and 51, then migrated to rotary wing operations and signed on with the famous 8055, which became the model for the better known 4077th of television fame. Kirkland told us that Dr. Sam Gilfand, a very brave man with a caustic wit, was the real-life model for Hawkeye Pearce, the MASH surgeon on the television show. An interesting note: in those days MASH pilots were based with their MASH units.
Kirkland flew 69 daring combat helicopter missions with the 8055th.
During his military career he was awarded two DFC, five air medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal and two Presidential Citations.
After his Air Force career, Richard joined the Aircraft Division of the Howard Hughes Company where he became National Sales Manager and subsequently a Division Manager at McDonnell Douglas. He then joined Helisource as Vice President for Marketing.
Following the war, Kirkland studied creative writing and Art at the Universities of Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Washington State. He has published many articles and stories about his war years and also written and published four non-fiction books. Several are available here today.
Richard is married to his life partner Maria, also an accomplished artist. They have nine children and 15 grandchildren.
Kirkland's most ambitious writing effort, a 903 page historic novel was also recently completed. On January 28th Mr. Kirkland will tell us all about it.