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173rd FW dedicates new F-15 flagship honoring WWII hero

The vertical tail of an F-15 Eagle, assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, bears an image of Lt. David R. Kingsley, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism during WWII, which cost him his life. This new flagship pays homage to the Oregon native and Kingsley Field's heritage. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Paul Allen)

The vertical tail of an F-15 Eagle, assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, bears an image of Lt. David R. Kingsley, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism during WWII, which cost him his life. This new flagship pays homage to the Oregon native and Kingsley Field's heritage. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Paul Allen)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- Kingsley Field is forever tied to World War II and Lt. David R. Kingsley, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism during the war.

At the entrance to the base sits a memorial designed with a piece of the B-17 aircraft that crashed in Bulgaria during WWII – with Kingsley still in it. Kingsley made the ultimate sacrifice, taking off his parachute and strapping it on a wounded member of the crew when the call to bail out was made – saving a life at the cost of his own.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of that heroism, the wing commissioned a special design for an F-15 aircraft with ideas from Kingsley Airmen and the local community.

"One submission we really liked was from Staff Sgt. Sabrina Kelley," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Draper, who organized the commemorative paint scheme. "The aircraft was painted in the color and camouflage scheme of a B-17."

Additionally, a pencil sketch of Kingsley's portrait behind a Crater Lake scene – drawn by Master Sgt. Kyle Hood's 10-year-old son, Carson – was integrated into the vertical tail murals.

Some of the other design aspects included B-17 bomber black and white invasion stripes, the P-51 style star and bars, Army Air Corps Bombardier wings, and Kingsley's signature, which was replicated from a letter he wrote while serving in WWII.

"A lot of planning and work has gone into this to give us a flagship to be proud of," said Capt. Richard Schuster, 173rd Maintenance Group. "The team originally wanted this aircraft to be done early this year, but logistical considerations and approval processes through higher headquarters delayed that until now. This really worked to our advantage, as the one-year approval would not have allowed us to share the aircraft with those visitors coming to our Sentry Eagle exercise and open house. Now we can."

Because the 173rd Fighter Wing's corrosion control facility, known as the paint barn, isn't suitable for painting an entire aircraft, the F-15 was flown to Edwards Air Force Base in California for painting.

Some of the wing's most experienced painters made the trip to the Southern California desert and applied the designs. The aircraft returned to base Dec. 13, 2019.

After a few finishing touches, the wing planned a dedication ceremony before the aircraft makes its first major trip, to Tucson, Arizona, to fly with the 162nd Fighter Wing for two weeks.

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