Veterans Voices: James Kinney

Veterans Voices
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October 31 2021 11:59 pm

WELLSBURG, W.Va. (WTRF) – One branch of the military and one tour of duty wasn’t enough for veteran James Kinney. 

He served in two different branches over several years. 

Kinney started by joining the Naval Reserve in 1956 during his second year of high school. He would conclude his service several years later in the Air Force. 

The first cruise that I took was we went to Havana, Cuba on a destroyer escort, which was a smaller ship than a destroyer. It gets kinda bumpy anyway and on a destroyer escort it’s even bumpier.

James Kinney, Veteran

That first cruise turned into much more time at sea for Kinney. 

In the Navy he was part of the crew of thousands on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was part of the Sixth Fleet . Kinney’s job was fire control. 

That’s radar for the guns. What you do is you check them all the time and you find out where it hits and misses and stuff and you adjust accordingly.

James Kinney, Veteran

Kinney said there were around 3,000 people on board the carrier.

Photo of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt at James Kinney’s home

Right behind that smokestack, you see there’s a cylinder type thing sticking up. That was the radar that we used for the fire control on the entire ship, but the guns was scattered around the ship. 

James Kinney, Veteran

On the hip planes took off frequently, especially during the Vietnam War. 

Most of the time they’re just flying on and off all the time because of training. Each squadron will put up 10 planes, land 10 and then take off another 10 or 15. 

James Kinney, Veteran

A four-year enlistment took Kinney all over the Mediterranean.

During your tour you might get shipped down into the Mediterranean or they go down in the Caribbean. They have different fleets that go there. I spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean. Then when you’re in the Mediterranean they have a circle of ports, they call them ports of call. What you do is you go to each of those ports of call for a week or 10 days.

James Kinney, Veteran

Then he changed branches and enlisted in the Air Force. 

My job in the Navy was just about any grubby job they gave me, but in the Air Force I worked in the flight simulator department. That was training. You had to keep the equipment running for training the pilots.

James Kinney, Veteran

For the next eight years, Kinney was stationed on land, instead of at sea. 

Obviously I liked the Air Force better because it’s what got me my job with American Airlines.

James Kinney, Veteran

After leaving the military, Kinney worked for American Airlines and spent 42 years as an electrical mechanical engineer. 

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