Col James Kyle 1932-2020

James H. Kyle "Jim" Colonel, USAF (Ret) passed away peacefully on May 4, 2020 in Honolulu, HI. Professionally, Jim (also known as "Kimo" among his buddies) will be remembered for his leadership and ingenuity in the development and tactics incorporating infrared lighting and night vision devices in support of Special Operations Forces. He was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal and selected to the Special Operation Command Hall of Honor for his exemplary performance as commander of the Air Force units engaged in the 1980 Iran Hostage Rescue mission.

Born in Kansas City, KC on December 19, 1932, Jim spent his formative years in Manhattan, KS. He was the only child of Robert E. and Malta L. Kyle. Jim was preceded in death by his wife Eunice. He is survived by his stepdaughter Lisa Kosasa, and grandchildren Lindsay and Ian Kosasa. He graduated from high school in Manhattan in 1950, and was skilled in multiple sports, earning All-Conference selection honors in basketball. He also had a reputable strike out record a pitcher for Manhattan baseball teams. He was inducted as a member of his high school Wall of Fame. Jim graduated from Kansas State University in 1954 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force through the AFROTC program. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and enjoyed a lifelong fellowship of a brotherhood of men with mutual interests. A decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, Jim's flying career took him to a myriad of worldwide assignments.

In 1980, he was called to the Pentagon to join a secret task force, developing plans to rescue 53 Americans held hostage in the U.S. Embassy, Teheran, Iran. He led a flight of elite Air Force Commandos transporting Special Forces into Iran for the rescue attempt. Although the mission was forced to terminate, it was nonetheless a valiant mission.

He culminated his career as the Director of Special Operations, Pacific Air Forces Headquarters. He retired as a Colonel in 1984 after a distinguished 30-year career.

Following retirement, Jim spent 10 years lecturing to Special Operations students about the lessons learned during the Iran rescue attempt. His book The Guts to Try, detailed his experiences and America's need to reform joint command and control to fight effectively against acts of terrorism.

Services with military honors is pending. Services with military honors is pending.

This content is courtesy of The Washington Post. This content was published in The Washington Post on Jun. 13, 2020.

2 Responses

  1. I just saw your news about Col. sorry to hear, however belatedly. I served as his publicist on his wonderful and honest book, The Guts to Try, Orion Press. It was my honor to've spent many hours with Jim, one-on-one, putting finishing touches on the manuscript, then doing publicity. Jim was a fine, kindly, wryly funny, and highly principled man. I count myself as immensely fortunate to've known him. God bless Jim, the family, and friends...CAVU, brave sir. And thank you again, for "having the guts to try." RESPECT.
  2. It is a great memory and in retrospect an Honor to have crewed as a Radio Operator with him on many flights out of Evreux, France in the 1950's on the C-119. He will live in Memory forever as a person who was worth having met and served on his crew. Ivar

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