Submitted by Steve Watson
Archivist, AFRL/VSIH - 5-3-06
Enlisting in the Army on November 8, 1898, he saw service as Private, Corporal and Sergeant, Company M, and Battalion Sergeant Major, 7th Infantry, to August 29, 1901. He was then commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry and served continuously with this branch of the service until March, 1911, in the meantime being promoted to 1st Lieutenant, May 18, 1905.
Colonel Kirtland is one of the early Army pilots, receiving in 1911 Certificate No. 46 from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. He also holds Expert Aviatior License No. 11 from the Aero Club of America. From April to June, 1911, he was in charge of the U.S. Aviation School at College Park, Md.
Library of Congress Collection, 9-14-07
Later he was on duty as assistant flying instructor.
He commanded the 1st Aero Squadron from June to November, 1913, and served as Adjutant, Supply Officer, Disbursing Officer and
Quartermaster of the Signal Corps Aviation School at San Diego, Calif., from December, 1913 to April, 1915. He then returned to the
Infantry, but rejoined the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, during the War, reporting for duty at Kelly Field, Texas, on October 2, 1917.
He was commissioned Major (temporary), Aviation Section, Signal Corps, September 22, 1917. Several days later he was assigned to
the command of Taliaferro Field, Fort Worth, Texas, but, due to the exigencies of the service, his duty at that field was of brief duration,
for in November, 1917, he was placed on duty with Col. Chalmers G. Hall in connection with organizing four regiments of specially
selected mechanics, known as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Motor Mechanics Regiments, subsequntly redesignated as Air Service
Mechanics, and was largely instrumental in solving all problems of efficient organization for these regiments and in the selection of
the commissioned personnel therefor. Subsequently he was sent to Camp Hancock, Ga., to take charge of organizing of the
regiments at the mobilization camp, and from the beginning of the organization in December, 1917, until the entire four regiments were
completely organized, he was commanding officer of the Air Service camp at Camp Hancock and in charge of all matters affecting the
organization of the four regiments mentioned. During this time he had under his command up to approximately 12,000 men, all recruits
with little or no experience. He was subsequently in command of the 3rd Regiment in France and exercised the functions of
regimental commander throughout a period of over six months. Among his other duties overseas were that of inspector of aviation
activities in England and commander of the Air Service Rest Camp in that country.
In October 24, 1918, he reported for duty at the Army Line School at Langres, France. Shortly following his return to the United States in January, 1919, he was assigned to the command of the Aviation General Supply Depot at Middletown, Pa. He was relieved from the Air Service in October, 1919, and was attached to the 17th Infantry at Camp Meade, Md., until February 20, 1920, when he was again detailed to the Air Service and assigned to the command of Rockwell Field and the Aviation Supply and Repair Depot at that post.
On August 30, 1920, Colonel Kirtland reported for duty as student of the Army School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Following his graduation in June, 1921, he continued on duty at Fort Leavenworth as student at the General Staff School until his graduation there from on June 22, 1922. Thereafter, until August, 1925, he was Instructor at the General Srvice Schools at Fort Leavenworth. Following a year of duty as student at the Army War College at Washington, D.C., he was, upon his graduation in June, 1925, detailed for duty as a member of the War Department General Staff, Washington, D.C.
Following the completion of his four-year detail with the General Staff, Col. Kirtland, in July, 1930, was assigned as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Wing, Air Corps, and of Langley Field, Va., also as Acting Commandant of the Air Corps Tactical School. In July, 1932, he was assigned to duty as Air Officer of the 2nd Corps Area, Governors Island, N.Y., and occupied this position until April, 1933, when he was assigned as Air Officer of the 9th Corps Area at the Presidio of San Francisco, Califr. This duty terminated on July 18, 1936, to enable him to take over his new assignment in the Inspector General's Department.
Colonel Kirtland holds the ratings of Airplane Pilot and Airplane Observer. In the early days of the Air Corps he held the ratings of Military Aviatior and Junior Military Aviator.