Earl Robert Kindig's son, Michael R. Kindig spent the better part of his life hoping his father’s wreck site and remains would be located and recovered. He was aware from military records of an area, within a circle, where his father and pilot likely would have gone missing. In June 1998, Alfred Hagen was searching for the wreck site of P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22896 piloted by 2nd Lt George P. Gaffney, Jr. at the request of his daughter, Patricia Gaffney-Ansel. After successfully locating Gaffney’s wreck site, Hagen was led to two other sites. One prove to be the L-4A Grasshopper 43-29071 with remains of both Major Earl Robert Kindig and 2nd Lt Francis J. Piotrowski. It was found within the circle Michael Kindig had identified. The other site was B-25D Mitchell 41-30182 where he found additional remains. As a result of the search initiated by Patricia Gaffney Gaffney-Ansel (daughter of 2nd Lt George P. Gaffney, Jr.) more missing airmen were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Kindig and Gaffney-Ansel were married in June 2003. Michael R. Kindig passed away in 2010.
Earl Robert Kindig was born April 11, 1915 in Iowa. In 1939, he joined the U. S. Army and was commissioned as an officer and served with the 8th Division. At the start of the Pacific 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.
On February 7, 1944 took off as a passenger aboard L-4A Grasshopper 43-29071 on a reconnaissance mission 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.
The U. S. Army serial number was L-4A Grasshopper 43-29071. Painted on tail was "29071" with no other markings. The engine was 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 a Colt M1911 .45
ACP pistol serial number 79229 and/or an M-1 carbine serial
number 409000 at the time of his disappearance.
Major Earl R. Kindig, at the time he went Missing In Action (MIA) roughly eighteen miles southeast of Saidor,
New Guinea on February 7, 1944, while observing fire from his unit 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.
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 archaeologists 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 L-4, incidentally was piloted by 2nd/Lt Francis
Piotrowski, who I believe was a native of Michigan.)
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.
After 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 identification, an individual marker was added on October 30, 2001 at 9:00am.
Ora I. Kindig (wife of Kindig)
Michael Kindig (son of Kindig, passed away 2010)
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
FindAGrave - Michael Robert Kindig (photo, obituary)
Thanks to Michael Kindig and Patricia Gaffney for assistance and additional information