Kelly Kinsey was born on February 1, 1920, in Harvey, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 23, 1940, and was trained as an Aircraft Armorer. SSgt Kinsey entered pilot training on November 1, 1941, and was awarded his pilot wings as a Flying Sergeant at Kelly Field, Texas, on March 8, 1942. He next attended P-38 Lightning transition training and was commissioned a 2d Lt on September 20, 1942. Lt Kinsey served as a P-38 pilot with the 96th Fighter Squadron of the 82nd Fighter Group in North Africa from September 1942 until he was shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War on April 5, 1943. During this time he was credited with the destruction of 7 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 2 probables and 1 damaged. Lt Kinsey escaped from his POW camp in late September 1943, and made his way back to Allied lines on October 29, 1943. After returning to the United States and recuperating, he served as a P-38 instructor pilot with the 372nd Fighter Squadron and the 440th Air Base Unit at Santa Maria, California, from February 1944 to February 1946, followed by service as a Passenger and Freight Transportation Officer at March AFB, California, from February 1946 to April 1948. His next assignment was as a Passenger and Freight Transportation Officer at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, from April 1948 to June 1949, and then as a Transportation Officer with Headquarters 12th Air Force at Brooke AFB, Texas, from July 1949 to June 1950. Capt Kinsey served as Director of Transportation and then as an Instrument Instructor with the 9th Air Division at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from July to November 1950, followed by service as a Commercial Transportation Officer at Langley AFB, Virginia, from November 1950 to June 1954. After attending Pilot Aircraft Observer Training and B-47 Stratojet Combat Crew Training, Maj Kinsey served as a B-47 pilot with the 338th Bomb Squadron of the 96th Bomb Wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, from May 1955 to June 1960. LtCol Kinsey next served as a B-47 instructor pilot with the 4347th Combat Crew Training Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from June 1960 to August 1961, followed by service as Commander of the 4350th Combat Crew Training Squadron at McConnell AFB from September 1961 to April 1962. He served as Commander of the 4347th Combat Crew Training Squadron at McConnell from April 1962 to June 1963, and then served as a B-47 Aircraft Commander with the 830th Bomb Squadron at Pease AFB, New Hampshire, from June 1963 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 1, 1965. Kelly Kinsey died on February 4, 2006, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight in the North African Theater of Operations as Pilot of a P-38 type aircraft. From 23 December 1942 to 4 May 1943, Lt. Kinsey has distinguished himself as a combat pilot and as a flight leader. His conspicuous gallantry and superior leadership have been of high inspiration to all who have served with him. He has destroyed five enemy aircraft, probably has destroyed two more, and has damaged one. Over the Sicilian Straits on 4 May 1943, Lt. Kinsey led his flight with consummate skill and daring when his squadron attacked more than forty JU-52's escorted by twenty-two fighter aircraft. Our fighters destroyed fifteen enemy planes, probably destroyed three others and damaged six. Lt. Kinsey was last seen in desperate combat protecting the rear of his formation and subsequently was reported a Prisoner of War. His consistent self-denial and extraordinary devotion to duty have upheld the highest ideals of the United States Army Air Forces.