Al Kientzler was born on April 6, 1940, in Poway, California. He entered the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate School on May 19, 1963, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on September 20, 1963. Ens Kientlzer then completed the Naval Aviation Officer Training Program in February 1964, and the Airborne Radar Intercept Operator Course at NATTC Glynco, Georgia, in May 1964. He attended F-4 Phantom II Fleet Replacement training with VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California, from May to December 1964, followed by service as an F-4 Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) with VF-143 from December 1964 to September 1966. His next assignment was as an F-4 RIO with VF-33 from October 1966 until he left active duty on November 24, 1967. LT Kientzler returned to active duty on May 26, 1970, and he attended F-4 Fleet Replacement training with VF-121 at NAS Miramar from July to December 1970, followed by service as an F-4 RIO with VF-143 from December 1970 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on January 27, 1973. After spending 60 days in captivity, LCDR Kientzler was released during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then served as a test and evaluation officer with VX-4 at NAS Point Mugu, California, from September 1973 to March 1976. His next assignment was as a Flight Deck Officer and Assistant Command Duty Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) from April 1976 to April 1978, followed by service as an Aviation Training Officer and Resident Management Officer at NAS Alameda, California, from June 1978 to July 1981. After completing the Aviation Safety Officer Course at Monterey, California, LCDR Kientzler served as Aviation Safety Officer at NAF Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean from July 1981 to September 1982, and then as Port Services Officer at Naval Station Treasure Island, California, from October 1982 until his retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1984. Al Kientzler died on February 2, 2005.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as naval flight officer of a jet aircraft, attached to and serving with Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FORTY-THREE embarked in USS RANGER (CVA 61) during an attack on a missile site on 31 May 1966. While conducting an armed reconnaissance mission along the coast of North Vietnam, his aircraft was attacked by a surface-to-air missile which his pilot successfully avoided. After a second surface-to-air missile was fired at his aircraft, his pilot determined upon a bold plan of attack to destroy the missile site. By using their aircraft for bait, the enemy was induced to fire a third missile and to expose the location of the missile site. A fourth missile was fired and the missile site was pinpointed. Lieutenant (junior grade) KIENTZLER contributed to the successful execution of this plan by maintaining visual lookout until missiles were sighted, and then providing altitude and heading information for his pilot during evasive maneuvers. When his pilot commenced the extremely dangerous rocket attack on the site, he contributed to the success of the attack with his calm range, altitude and airspeed calls. The rocket attack was conducted in the face of intense anti-aircraft and automatic weapons fire, and succeeded in heavily damaging the control and guidance equipment at the site. Lieutenant (junior grade) KIENTZLER's determination and extraordinary airmanship resulted in the successful completion of this daring attack, and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.