Daughter revisits her father’s memorial site
By , AEDC
/ Published February 22, 2007
Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn --
Suzie was only four years old. But, she still remembers that cold December day in 1965 when the men in uniform came to her Tullahoma home with the terrible news.
Her father, Capt. James Kindel, was killed by enemy ground fire while flying an unarmed observation plane on a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam.
"I remember very little about my father," Suzie Jenkins explained. "But, I remember the day the people came to tell my mom. I remember her reaction. I remember her running out of the room crying."
Before leaving Arnold AFB for Vietnam, Captain Kindel was a mechanical engineer in the Development Division of DCS/Plans and Technology.
A few months after he was killed, then-AEDC commander Brig. Gen. Lee Gossick, presented seven medals in the captain's honor to his widow, Fran Kindel - the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Air Medals and the Purple Heart. General Gossick also dedicated a memorial in front of what is now the A&E Building and also named the street in front of the headquarters, Kindel Drive, after the captain.
Suzie, her two brothers, Stephen and Dennis, were also at the ceremony.
Tuesday, Suzie came from College Station, Texas, to Arnold to pay respects to her father. Although she has made the trip several times since his death, she said it had been nearly 10 years since she was here.
"I have very few memories of my father," she tried to recall. "And I'm not sure if they're actually memories or if people just told me stories so many times that I think I remember them."
That's one of the main reasons she keeps coming back to visit the memorial.
"I do it because I don't have anything really left of my dad," she said. "I have a few little things like the book the Air Force gave my mom when he died. Coming here is just me honoring my dad - because he's looking and he knows that I haven't forgotten.
"They're up there," she said. "They are angels and I have no doubt.
"I was so blessed. My mom remarried another Air Force man and he always taught us about the war [Vietnam] and the sacrifice my father made - the sacrifices military members make. I see all the military as a hero."