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Major Earl Robert Kindig
32nd Infantry Division, 121st Field Artillery Battalion

Click For EnlargementBackground
In 1939, Kindig was commissioned in the US Army and served with the 8th Division. At the start of the Paciic War, he was transfered to the 32nd Division and embarked from San Francisco in September, 1942, to the Southwest Pacific Theater. Assigned to the 120th Field Artillery Battalion, he fought a Buna. Next, Kindig became the Commanding Officer (C.O.) of the 121st Field Artillery Battalion, 32nd Infantry Division.

Mission History
On February 7, 1944 took off as a passenger aboard L-4 Grasshopper 43-29071 on a reconaissance misison at 1:00pm approximately eighteen miles southeast of Saidor. Major Kindig, unsatisfied with the results of previous forward air observation of his command artillery fire, took to the air in an effort to rectify that circumstance. Low on fuel and with radio contact lost, the plane was last seen"flying up the Yaut River Valley".

The plane flew below the level of the clouds which obscured Gabutamon, to a point approximately 2,000 yards directly west of Gabutamon at which time a few rounds landed near the range of hills on which Gabutamon was situated. The plane then turned right (west) just short of the high perpendicular cliffs and disappeared from sight around a range of hills on which Kepoiak is located. That was the last time Major Kindig s plane was seen. Major Kindig s dental chart, prepared six months before his disappearance, is available. A presumptive finding of having been killed-in-action was made by the War Department, effective 08 February, 1945.

Identification Numbers
The serial number of the L4A was 43-29071. Painted on tail assembly: 29071; no fuselage patches. Engine: Continental 0-170-3, serial number 156781. An overlay, which indicates the site where the aircraft was last seen, exists in archival records and can be matched to Nankina Sheet, B-55/6. It s possible Major Kindig was carrying an M-1911 .45 ACP pistol, serial number 79229, and/or an M-1 carbine, cal. 30, serial number 409000, at the time of his disappearance.

Major Earl R. Kindig, at the time he MIA'd in an L4A light observation aircraft roughly 18 miles southeast of Saidor, New Guinea, on 07 February 1944, while observing fire of his unit, was commanding the 121st Field Artillery Battalion, 32nd Division.

I've spent the better part of the last three decades attempting to locate and retrieve my father's remains. In June, 1998, an American businessman, who regularly searches for aircraft wreck sites in Papua New Guinea, discovered a P-47 and the remains of its pilot, a native son of Wisconsin, as it happens. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery a year later. On that same trip, he came across the wreckage of an L4A -- clearly the plane in which my father and another officer were flying.

CILHI Recovery Team Visits Site
After an initial reconnaissance mission in January of 2000 by US Army CILHI, has just recently dispatched a "recovery team" (composed principally of archeologists and forensic mortuary specialists) to the site of that wreck "approximately 19 miles southeast of Saidor," PNG, near the village of Yaut. They arrived at the site on February 26th, 2000, and, within four days, according to communication with CILHI, had started to recover human remains. (The L4, incidentally, was piloted by 2nd/Lt Francis Piotrowski, who I believe was a native of Madison.)

March 8, 2000 - The following additional items were excavated from the L4A crash site near the village of Yaut, Papua New Guinea:

- More bones, bone fragments;
- teeth;
- Zippo brand cigarette lighter w/Army crest
- Field Artillery brass collar device;
- major's oak-leaf brass insignia device.

Click For EnlargementMemorial
Both crew members were officially declared dead on February 8, 1945. Both were memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Kindig has a memorial marker at Elm Grove Cemetery in Washington, ID.

Ater the recovery of remains, Kindig and Piotrowski were buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at at Section 60 Site 8022. After Kindig's identificiation, an individual marker was added on October 30, 2001 at 9:00am.

Click For EnlargementOra I. Kindig (wife of Kindig)
Michael Kindig (son of Kindig)
Patricia Gaffney (daughter in law of Kindig)

AWM - Saidor landing cine footage of this aircraft being unloaded from LST on the beach at Saidor at clip timecode: 1:41 - 1:50 (on screen time code 05:03:11 - 05:03:20) and 2:20 - 2:44 (on screen timecode 05:03:51 - 05:04:14)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl R. Kindig "Remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis J. Piotrowski "Remains recovered"
FindAGrave - Maj Earl Robert Kindig (tablets of the missing photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Earl Robert Kindig (Arlington grave photos)
FindAGrave - Earl R Kindig (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Francis J. Piotrowski (Arlington grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - L-5 Stinson Sentinel 43-29071
Scripps Howard News Service "Man buries dad lost in WWII Lakewood resident receives comfort from military ritual" by Katy Marquardt October 31, 2001
Colorado Labor Advocate "Editor's father's remains found" August 31, 2000
Thanks to Michael Kindig for assistance and additional information

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