Captain Marion F. Kirby
Marion F. Kirby
Marion Franklin Kirby was born in Louisville, Kentucky on 14 July 1919. Joining the Army Air Forces from Lometa, Texas, he completed flight training on 12 December 1941.
Sent to the Southwest Pacific, Lieutenant Kirby flew P-38s with the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, based in New Guinea he was credited with probably destroying an Oscar between Lae and Salamaua on 21 May 1943. On 15 July he transferred to the newly organized 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, then based in Australia.
The Group moved to New Guinea in August. Operating out of Dobodura, Kirby logged his first victory with the 431st on 15 October, downing a Val dive bomber over Oro Bay, and two days later shot down a Zeke near Buna Bay. On 23 October, escorting B-24s to Rabaul, the 431st engaged 25-30 Japanese fighters diving on the bombers. In the ensuing combat, Kirby destroyed a Hamp.
Fifth Air Force's campaign to neutralize Rabaul was capped by the 475th's 2 November mission. Timed to support the U.S. landings on Bougainville, the 475th Fighter Group's sweep to Rabaul was intended to keep Japanese aircraft out of Simpson Harbor. Shortly after passing the shoreline, Kirby noticed a B-25 with its right engine afire. Five or six Japanese fighters were trying to establish a gunnery pattern on the Mitchell, and Kirby dove into them, knocking down one. Turning back, he splashed another to become an ace.
Kirby left the Air Force after the war and graduated from Louisiana State University in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in geology. He then joined the Gulf Oil Corporation and worked for them for 12 years, following which he established his own oil business. He retired to Lampasas, Texas in 1975.
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters