William Arthur Kimsey, Jr. – Chief Warrant Officer 3, United States Army


William Arthur Kimsey, Jr. was born on January 9, 1947 and joined the Armed Forces while in Relliance, Tennessee.

He served in the United States Army, 220th Recon Company, 17th Aviation Group, and attained the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3.

William Arthur Kimsey, Jr. is listed as Missing in Action.

May 27, 2002

The military honors performed by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at Arlington National Cemetery are considered the model for veterans' funeral services throughout the nation: solemn, dignified and precise.

Last week, it performed full military honors for Warrant Officer William Arthur Kimsey Jr., who would have been 55 this year.

Born in Tennessee, Warrant Officer Kimsey enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1965. He completed flight school and was sent to Vietnam in 1967,  where he flew across enemy lines to direct Navy gunfire on enemy anti-aircraft sites. He turned 21 just two weeks before he went missing in action, shot down over the Demilitarized Zone on January 21, 1968. Though classified as killed in action, his remains were only recently recovered from Vietnam.

Warrant Officer Kimsey's funeral service started in the chapel at Fort Myer. Then came a curving walk downhill to an open grave near that of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. Every participant was wearing the Army's dress-blue uniform. First came an 18-piece band playing “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” the Army's official song. Then came 18 soldiers shouldering rifles. Next came a soldier carrying the American flag, flanked by two other soldiers. Seven horses, three with soldiers astride, pulled a caisson bearing the flag-draped casket. Close behind were eight Old Guard pallbearers, and Warrant Officer Kimsey's two sisters and their families.

As the band marched and took its place a short distance from the grave, the band played “Amazing Grace,” “In the Garden” and “Loch Lohman,” as the family had requested. Already in place 50 yards away was the armed guard — seven riflemen and a commanding officer — standing at attention. The leader of the platoon raised a saber, called “Present arms,” and every member of the honor guard snapped to attention, and some civilians placed their hands over their hearts. All soldiers remained at attention as the pallbearers, slow sidestep by sidestep, removed the coffin. A drummer played, and, led by the chaplain, the pallbearers carried the coffin firmly to a metal scaffold over the grave.

The family was led to 10 cushioned, folding chairs as the horses pulled the caisson down the road out of sight. The pallbearers slowly lifted the flag to waist level. Major Claude Crisp, the chaplain, said Warrant Officer Kimsey essentially said to the nation, “‘My life is your life.'” The chaplain then recited the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want .” Major Crisp lifted his white-gloved right hand heavenward and gave a prayer. Everyone was asked to stand. The officer in charge of the armed guard called out “Present arms” again, and the seven soldiers cocked their rifles. As the officer called out orders, they fired three paced, simultaneous blasts into the air.

With the honor guard standing silently at attention, a bugler performed taps.

Keeping position, the pallbearers began briskly and precisely folding the flag in a triangle over the foot of the casket. When the blue field reached the end, it was folded over the red-and-white stripes and passed back to the officer in charge. The squad saluted after giving the flag to the officer in charge, turned and marched away in formation through the graves. The officer did an about-face, clicked his heels and presented the folded flag to the chaplain. Major Crisp marched slowly to kneel before Warrant Officer Kimsey's family. With the words, “On behalf of the president and a grateful nation, I present you with the American flag,” he gave the flag to Warrant Officer Kimsey's next of kin. Major Crisp rose, saluted and stepped away.  A member of the Army Arlington Ladies came forward and presented a letter of commendation from Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, chief of staff of the Army.

“We're real proud of our family history, and we've loved this country for a long, long time,” said Glenda Ehrlich, Warrant Officer Kimsey's sister. Mrs. Ehrlich, of Corpus Christi, Texas, recounted how their ancestors came from Scotland in 1746, participated in the Revolutionary War and fought with the Union Army in the Civil War, while later generations served in World War I, World War II and, finally, in Vietnam. As the family walked from the grave site, the soldiers marched away in time with a drumbeat. One soldier remained at the grave, standing guard, until keepers came to lower the casket, fill in soil and plant a temporary grave marker that soon will be replaced by a granite or marble headstone.

Name: William Arthur Kimsey, Jr.

Rank/Branch: Warrant Officer Third Class/US Army
Unit: 220th Reconnaissance Aviation Company,
Nickname: The Catkillers
17th Aviation Group,
1st Aviation Brigade
Date of Birth: 9 January 1947 (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)
Home of Record: Reliance, Tennessee
Date of Loss: 21 January 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Status in 1973: Missing in Action
Category:  4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O1D “Bird Dog”
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles J. Ramsay (missing)


The Cessna O1D Bird Dog was primarily used by the Army as a liaison and observation aircraft. It brought not only an aerial method of locating targets, but the rudiments of a system of strike coordination between different types of aircraft used in the air war as well as with the different branches of the service who were operating in the same area. The Bird Dog was also used very successfully as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) since it could fly low and slow carrying marker rounds of ammunition to identify enemy positions for the attack aircraft.

On 21 January 1968, then W2 William A. Kimsey Jr., Army pilot; and Captain Charles J. Ramsey, Marine Corps aerial observer comprised the crew of an O1D aircraft (tail #57-2930) on a combat support mission over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Vietnam. They departed the Hue/Phu Bai Airfield in the morning to direct naval gunfire on an active enemy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) site. This gun emplacement posed a severe threat to US strike aircraft participating in operational missions throughout North Vietnam because its location was within range of flight paths frequently used by all American aircraft entering and exiting North Vietnam's air space.

At 1200 hours radio contact was lost with the crew of the Bird Dog. Just prior to radio failure, W2 Kimsey reported that their aircraft had been hit by ground fire. The on-site Forward Air Controller (FAC), who was controlling multiple aircraft operating in this sector, immediately initiated a visual search for the downed aircraft and its crew. Over the next several hours he crisscrossed the area of loss without locating the crash site or making contact with Charles Ramsay or William Kimsey.  The location of loss was in the flat, marshy and populated coastal plain approximately 1 mile north of the DMZ, 2 miles east of the coastline and 3 miles southeast of Vinh Linh, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. This was also approximately 58 miles northwest of the Hue/Phu Bai Airfield. There was a small east/west flowing river less than a mile north of the loss location and a second much larger east/west flowing river to the south of it. Because of the heavy enemy presence in the area, no ground search was possible.

Under the circumstances of loss, it was believed that if Captain Ramsey and W2 Kimsey survived the downing of their aircraft, they most certainly would have been captured. At the time the Ariel search was terminated, both William Kimsey and Charles Ramsay were listed Missing in Action.


  • CWO3   US ARMY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 01/09/1947
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/21/1968


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