More than a base, it's a part of the family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ruben Garibay
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The descendants of Col. Roy C. Kirtland, a pioneer in early military aviation, visited the very base that was named after their grandfather, 81 years later.

The Kirtland family received mission briefings from the numerous mission partners supported on the installation along with a tour of the base itself.

“We are overjoyed with what Kirtland is doing,” exclaims William K. Pruyn, grandson of Roy Kirtland. “Kirtland has exceeded any expectation our grandfather may have set forward and we are glad to be a part of it.”

The family engaged with members of the Kirtland community during their visit as they exchanged stories of the rich history of the base and the inevitable future it holds.

Col. Roy Kirtland was one of the first pilots taught by the Wright brothers and piloted the first aircraft from which a machine gun had been fired in 1912. He served as an early mentor for many, including General Henry H. Arnold, former General of the Air Force

In France, he commanded the Third Regiment during World War I, served as an inspector of aviation activities and Air Service rest camps and commanded various aviation depots.

Kirtland finished his career as the commander of Langley Field, Virginia and the Commandant of the Air Corps Tactical School in 1938.

He was then called back to active duty in 1941 as an aviation instructor to train pilots during World War II. Soon after, he passed away from a heart attack in May, 1942.

“It brings such a sense of pride to our family knowing we all share something in common within the Kirtland family and community,” shares Pruyn.