Forest M. “Woody” Kimsey Flies West
Silver Star recipient, Air Commando, dear friend, and loved one takes his final flight.
Forest Marshall Kimsey was born December 17th, 1939, in Pueblo, CO to Mildred Ferguson Kimsey and Clarence Jesse Kimsey. Survivors are his wife Joy Kean who he married, February 1st, 1962, and two sons Kris K Kimsey who is married to Tamara Cort and Kyle Kimsey who is married to Toni Greenman. He has one grandson, Joshua Kimsey in Germany and one granddaughter, Alyssa Kimsey in Florida. He is preceded in death by his parents.
Col. Kimsey graduated from high school in Colby, KS and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in 1962. Forest also received a Master of Arts degree from Webster College in St. Louis, MO.
After pilot training at Webb AFB, TX and helicopter school at Stead AFB, NV, he was stationed at Eglin AFB, FL in Tactical Air Warfare Center. In October 1965 the group was then sent to Southeast Asia, Udorn, Thailand, Det F, 38th ARRS (Jolly Greens). During his tour, he flew 113 combat missions and had six combat saves. He then spent four years in the Cartographic and Geodetic Service (Photo Mapping) living in Georgia and Kansas and traveling to Brazil and Ethiopia. He went to University of Southern California to study Airplane Accident Investigation after which he went to the 39th ARRS Wing Headquarter, Richards‐Gebaur and then to Eglin AFB.
In 1972, he went back to Southeast Asia and had a 3‐month tour in Ton Son Nhut. The next year, he was selected for a Coast Guard Exchange, in San Diego, for two years flying HH3F. He was next sent to Thule, Greenland as Det 14, 39th ARRS Commander. In 1975, he then went to Scott AFB as Chief of Helicopter Tactcs where he wrote the original manual for Red Flag. In Oct 1977, he was Det Commander of Det 18, 38th ARRS Plattsburg AFB, NY where he oversaw the Medical Helicopter rescue of the 1980 Winter Olympics. In 1980, he was then back to Scott AFB MAC Headquarter to be Chief of Operational Requirements. In 1981, he went to Korea to assume command of the 38th ARRS in Osan. In 1982, he was back at MAC Headquarters in Operational Requirements and worked on Special Operations Requirements. In 1983, he went to USAF Inspector General Headquarters at Norton AFB, CA where he was Functional Management Team Chief. In 1987, he as assigned to Hulburt Field with 23rd AF.
Col. Kimsey is a command pilot with over 3500 hours, mostly in the H3. His military awards include the Silver Star, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation with 1 oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is also a Master Mason, St. Thomas Lodge #306, Colby, KS and a Shriner, St. Louis, MO., Life Member VFW, Colby KS, Life Member Air Commando Association, Life Member Jolly Green Association, Helicopter Pilots Association, and Photo Mapping Association.
His Silver Star citation reads:
“First Lieutenant, Forest M. Kimsey, distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 22 April 1966. On that date, Lieutenant Kimsey, flying a rescue helicopter, voluntarily flew into an area of known hostile troops in an effort to rescue two fellow Americans. Due to intense ground fire and battle damage to his helicopter, Lieutenant Kimsey was forced to withdraw from the area. Later in the day, Lieutenant Kimsey returned to the area and despite intense ground fire, successfully rescued one survivor. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Kimsey has reflected great credit upon himself and United States Air Force.”
Watch an interview of Woody in 2014 by Joe Galloway for the Veterans History Project found in the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.109092/?
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