Happy Heavenly 99th Birthday to Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham’s 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on.
Virgil Kirkham was born in Troutdale, Oregon, a member of the 377th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter group, 9th Air Force.

On April 30, 1945, he was preparing for his mission, which led over the forests near Domažlice. Virgil P. Kirkham discovered the German cars on the road between Trhanov and Klenčí pod Čerchovem.

“I found several cars on a narrow road that was well covered with trees. We opened fire when 1/Lt Kirkham caught the top of a tree with his left wing during a low pass. The lead aircraft suddenly rolled over and crashed into a nearby hill at full speed,” said Virgil’s colleague 2/Lt Holland. The fighter crashed into the wooded slope of the Draženovská mountain, which lies north of Trhanov.

According to the Missing Air Crew Report, “Lieutenant Kirkham was hit while firing on a ground target.” This version is also confirmed by the preserved armor plate that protected the pilot’s seat against fire from behind.

He is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-Avold.

Lest we forget!