Timothy W. Kirtley – Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

From a contemporary news report

Friday, October 13, 1989

A former Kirkwood, Missouri, resident killed in a naval accident was remembered by his family Thursday as a dedicated officer who loved to fly.

Lieutenant Commander Timothy W. Kirtley, 32, was killed Wednesday by shrapnel or projectiles fired from another ship in a gunnery exercise, the Navy said. Kirtley was the navigator aboard the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima.

The accident occurred about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday as the Iwo Jima took part in a routine exercise with the amphibious cargo ship El Paso in the Atlantic Ocean about 80 miles southeast of Norfolk, the Navy said.

The Navy said Kirtley and another sailor had been struck by unidentified objects fired from the El Paso's Phalanx close-in weapons system. The other sailor was in good condition at a hospital.

Kirtley lived in Norfolk with his wife, Suzanne Kirtley, and their daughter, Jessica Lee, 2.

”He loved the Navy from the time he was a little kid,” said Kirtley's father, William E. Kirtley of Kirkwood.

The elder Kirtley recalled a visit the family made to a Navy base when his son was 12. The tour included a demonstration by the Blue Angels precision flying team.

”From that time on he always said he wanted to be a Navy pilot,” Kirtley recalled.

Lieutenant Commander Kirtley was graduated from Kirkwood High School in 1975. He majored in history at the University of Missouri at Columbia and joined the Naval ROTC program. He joined the Navy after graduation in 1979 and became a helicopter pilot and instructor.

A memorial service for Kirtley was scheduled for Saturday at the Naval base in Norfolk, the family said. Kirtley will be buried Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his wife, daughter and father, Kirtley is survived by his mother, Jeanne Kirtley of Kirkwood; a sister, Sarah Kirtley of Kirkwood; a brother, John Kirtley of Camdenton; and a grandmother, Mildred Nelson of Kirkwood.

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