Retired. Died June 11, 1980.
John Phillips Kirkendall was born in Dallas, Penn., in 1901. After graduating from high school at Wilkes-Barre, Penn., in 1918, he attended Seton Hall in New Jersey for one year and Villanova College in Penn., for a year. Entering the U.S. Military Academy in July 1920, he graduated June 12, 1924, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service.
Beginning Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas, that September, he graduated the following March; attended Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, for nine months; entered the Air Service Balloon and Airship School at Scott Field, Ill., and graduated in June 1926. After serving at Scott Field, Ill., he returned to Kelly Field in June 1928 to take the special observation course, which he completed that October.
Going to Hawaii in April 1929, General Kirkendall joined the Fourth Observation Squadron at Luke Field, and three months later was transferred to the 18th Pursuit Group at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Appointed finance officer at the Air Corps primary Flying School, Randolph Field, Texas, in July 1931, two months later he became adjutant of the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron there. He went to Fort Sill, Okla., in March 1932, joining the First Balloon Squadron; was given temporary duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Stephenville, Texas, in July 1933; rejoining the First Balloon Squadron that December. He later assumed command of the 53rd School Squadron at Randolph Field.
Moving to the Philippine Islands in February 1938, General Kirkendall was assigned to the Fourth Composite Group at Nichols Field; became adjutant of Clark Field that July; and a year later was named operations officer there. Transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, in February 1940, he was assigned to the Air Materiel Division, contract section. That August he was assigned to the Office of the Undersecretary of War, where he served successively as assistant to the chief of the Air Corps section, Purchasing and Contract Branch, and assistant to the chief of the defense aid section there.
Ordered to Europe in June 1942, General Kirkendall was chief of the Procurement Branch of the Eigth Air Force Service Command, becoming its assistant chief of staff for supply that December. In June 1943 he was appointed assistant to the commanding general of the Supply Division, Air Service Command, at Patterson Field, Ohio. That August he joined the Special Planning Division of the War Department General Staff, and in October 1943 he was designated deputy commander of the Middletown Air Service Command at Olmsted Field, Penn.
General Kirkendall was assigned to the U.S. Military Mission to Moscow, Russia, in April 1945, and three months later was named chief of the Berlin, (Germany) Air Command. He assumed command of the 10th Air Depot Group in Germany the following January, and in May 1946 he was named commanding officer of the Ansbach (Germany) Air Depot.
Joining the Air Transport Command in February 1947, General Kirkendall was designated assistant chief of the staff for supply of the European Division at Wiesbaden, Germany, and that July assumed that position with the 51st Troop Carrier Wing there. The following January he was appointed chief of the Plans and Control Section of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Wiesbaden. In April 1948 he became deputy commander of the Mobile Air Materiel Area at Brookley Air Force Base, Ala.; was named executive officer of the 3380th Technical Training Wing there in October 1949; and in February 1951 was designated deputy commander. He was appointed deputy commander of Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., in September 1952.
General Kirkendall is rated a command pilot, balloon pilot, combat observer, balloon observer, technical observer and aircraft observer.