Born: October 29, 1912.
Birthplace: Franklin, TN.

Rank at Retirement: Colonel
– 356th Fighter Group
– 355th Fighter Group
— 354th Fighter Squadron
– 4th Fighter Group
Theatre(s): ETO
DSC, SS, DFCx7, AMx8
   Croix de Guerre
– 8 Aerial (+1 damaged)
– 17 Ground (+9 damaged)
Total Sorties: N/A

Aircraft Flown:
– P-47D-11RE, 42-75275
   WR-C Man O War
– P-51B-5, 43-6431
   WR-A Man O War
– P-51B-15, 42-106950
   WR-A Man O War
– P-51D-5, 44-13375
   WR-A Man O War
– P-51D-10, 44-14292
   QP-A Man O War
– P-51D-15, 44-15625
   Man O War
– P-51D-20, 44-72427
   Man O War
– P-51D-25, 44-73144
   Man O War

Clay Kinnard Jr. graduated with a BSCE at Vanderbilt University and joined the USAAF before WWII. He graduated from flight school in August, 1939 and served with various squadrons until going to war with the 356th FG in August, 1943. He transferred to 354FS/355FG in November, 1943 but was off ops with a severe ear infection until February, 1944.

Between March 29th, when Kinnard shot down an Fw 190 near Brunswick, and April 13, Kinnard destroyed 2 in the air and 9 on the ground while leading the 354FS on a rampage destroying a total of 44 German aircraft and propelling the 355th FG into number three high scoring group behind the 56th an the 4th FG. On April 5th the 355th FG set a record with 51-2-81 that was to stand until September with Kinnard becoming first 8th AF pilot scoring 5 total air and ground in one day.

Kinnard continued his leadership as one of the top tacticians in the 8th AF for strafing attacks on Luftwaffe airfields. Largely due to his tactics, the 354FS would emerge as the top Squadron in the 8th for enemy a/c destroyed on the ground.

He became the 355th FG's seventh air ace on July 7, 1944 when he shot down three German fighters including 2 Me 410's and an 109 while receiving the DSC for breaking up a major attack on B-24's near Merseburg.

Kinnard became 355th FG Deputy CO in June, 1944, then moved on to the 4th FG as Deputy then Group CO until the end of his first tour. When he returned in February, 1945 as Group Commander of the 355th FG, he continued the pace and the 355th ended as the third highest scoring group in the 8th AF. The 355th destroyed more enemy aircraft between April 5, 1944 through the end of the war, than any other 8th AF Fighter Group.

Kinnard scored his last two air victories near Prague when he shot down two 109's to finish with 8 air and 17 ground scores. Following that April 20 mission he remarked that he wished the German fighter pilots had chosen to stay on the ground that late in the war.

He was the top decorated fighter pilot for the 355th FG.

He joined the Tennessee Air National Guard as CO and built a thriving business supplying his patented pre-stressed concrete beams. He passed away in 1966 from a brain tumor.

Final score was 8 destroyed (one with 4th FG), 1 damaged in the air and 17 destroyed (2 with 4th FG), 9 damaged on the ground.


Profile compiled by Bill Marshall - Photo courtesy Bill Marshall - Artwork by Rocky Gooch