In Memory of
U.S. Naval Ensign Aberdeen, South Dakota
Brown County

January 21, 1932 -- April 22, 1954
Died in an airplane accident near San Diego, California

    

George Edward Kirchgasler was born January 21, 1932, in Aberdeen, South Dakota to John and Lena Kirchgasler. He had two older brothers, John and Harold, and one sister, Mary Lou. He graduated from Central High School in Aberdeen in 1949 and was in ROTC for three years at SDSU; he also went to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. He loved hunting and fishing and even studied for a career in Wildlife Management.

As an ROTC Ensign, Kirchgasler trained not only in Pensacola but also in San Diego, California, as a jet and carrier- landing pilot. In his last letter to his sister, written a month before his death, George told Mary Lou:

I’m planning a cross-country hop home in a couple of weeks and plan on surprising the folks. It will just be for the weekend, but it’ll be fun and a good trip. We can take cross –countries any weekend and every weekend we want to, but we are restricted to 1200 air miles from here. Aberdeen is about 1190 so I’m not too lucky, huh? And get this—I can make it in about 5 hours from here. That’s really traveling, huh?

While practicing carrier landings and getting ready for his planned leave, Navy Ensign George Edward Kirchgasler was killed in a plane crash on April 22, 1954, just off the coast of San Diego. The plane went down when the engine failed over houses in Point Loma; Ensign Kirchgasler decided to try to glide in to the ocean rather than ditching over homes as a buddy of his had done a couple days before. The plane exploded on impact in the ocean. He was 23 years old.

George’s parents received word of the accident when a family friend who ran the Western Union Telegram Service delivered it when he was sure that George’s father would be home to get the news. His casket was returned to South Dakota by a Naval escort and arrived in Aberdeen by train; then he was buried with military honors at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Aberdeen.

Currently George is survived by one brother, Harold, and one sister, Mary Lou, and their families. He is remembered as “the youngest boy in his family, a great brother, good friend, and hunting and fishing companion.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Jerrilyn Jill Dell, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on May 21, 2004. The Kirchgaslers of Aberdeen and Watertown submitted the information for this entry and approved its content.