14 Names to Remember Project

14 Names to Remember | Kenneth Kirkendoll

Posted on May 23rd, 2024 By:

14 Names to Remember Project. Layout by Tonya Strickland. Historic graphics attributed.

Gig Harbor Now columnist Tonya Strickland researched and profiled the 14 local men whose names appear on the World War II monument at Kenneth Leo Marvin Memorial Park. Find all 14 profiles here.

Hometown: Rosedale

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank: Private

Died: Sept. 24, 1944 | Age 19

Pvt. Kenneth Wayne Kirkendoll was born May 20, 1925 in Oketo, Kansas, to Ruth (Moble) Kirkendoll and Robert Kirkendoll of Rosedale. In the 1940 U.S. Census, he had five siblings: Robert, Jerrold, Jack, Dale and Levi Kirkendoll.

Kenneth Kirkendoll worked with marine machinery at Shop 38 of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, in Bremerton. He registered for the draft on his 18th birthday in 1943. He was 5-foot-10 and 180 lbs; with black hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion.

That summer, Kirkendoll enlisted in WWII in Seattle and joined the 13th Airborne Division’s 458th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. A year before he died, his military training made local headlines when he achieved his “fifth and qualifying jump” in a skills test at the Fort Benning parachute training school in Georgia. The milestone earned him his “coveted wings and boots of the most modern soldier — the paratrooper,” one article said.

Unfortunately, Kirkendoll never made it out of training. He died Sept. 24, 1944 when the C-47 transport plane he was riding in crashed in a field and erupted in flames. The aircraft was in a six-ship formation during a nighttime troop carrier exercise with parachute drops over the base. The military incident report said:

“ … the aircraft were flying in a ‘V of V’s’ formation, dropping parachute supply bundles … when one of the planes collided with a parachute bundle dropped from a preceding airplane. The bundle hit the control surface of the right-hand wing. The (C-47 ) rolled out of control and entered a spin … and the airplane crashed and burned.”

Filed as an accident on his death certificate, Pvt. Kirkendoll was one of 12 paratroopers killed. He died from third-degree burns and his body is buried at Rosedale Cemetery.

Status: DNB – Died Non-Battle