Capt. Kelly Hinz Was One Of Two Pilots Killed In Apparent
Mid-Air Over Iraq
When two USMC F/A-18 Hornets apparently collided in mid-air over
Iraq Monday, it was an especially telling blow for one of the
families. For Kurt and Luke Hinz, along with their mother, Pat, it
was the second aviation tragedy in less than a year. In May, 2004,
Pat's husband, Donald, head of the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tail
Project, was lost in a P-51 accident in Wisconsin. Now, her son,
30-year old Kelly, was gone as well.
Captain Kelly Hinz and his leader, Major John Spahr, 42, were
both lost over Iraq Monday when their fighters apparently collided
in bad weather at 30,000 feet during a night flight. Both had flown
from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on a mission in support of Iraqi
Freedom. There was no indication of hostile fire.
Capt. Hinz's father died when his P-51 made an
off-airfield landing during an air show at Bay City,
WI. Failure of the aircraft's Y drive caused the
engine to completely stop in mid-flight just after a high-speed
pass at the show. He's memorialized on the Red Tail Project web
site and another legacy site.
"Don had a passion for telling a vastly unheralded part of
American history in a way that didn't include patting himself on
the back," said Stan Ross, who worked with Don on the Red Tail
Project. He was quoted by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "That's the
way he carried himself, and that's the way he raised his family. I
learned a lot from him, and I know his sons did, too."
"This is the guy we would want over there fighting for us," said
Don Mardell, who captained Kelly's Alpine ski team in his home town
of Woodbury, MN. He told the Star-Tribune Kelly "is the poster,
better than anything you see on TV. A good-looking guy, an
athlete.... I know it's a cliche, but he is exactly the kind of guy
every mother dreams her daughter will marry."
And married he was, to a woman named Molly, who bore him a
daughter, Abby. The three lived in San Diego, CA, while Kelly was
deployed on the USS Carl Vinson.
"He called me on the night before he left," Miley told the
Minneapolis newspaper. "He said, 'I feel great. This is what I have
trained for.' He was so excited to go and take part in the
operations over there that when I hung up the phone, I felt
positive for him."
Captain Kelly Hinz, USMC, has gone West, into the sunset of his
father who flew there before him. Happy trails, Kelly and Don. You
are in our thoughts and your families are in our prayers.