Jernstedt, Kenneth A.

Last Name:   
Jernstedt
Picture

First Name: 
Kenneth A.
Nickname:  
Ken
Born/Died  
July 20, 1917 - Feb. 5, 2013
Hometown:
Hood River, OR
Squadron:
Third
Position: 
Flight Leader
Victories
10.5
Decorations:
2 Chinese Cloud Banner; Distinguished Flying Cross
Pre AVG: Graduated from Yamhill High School (1935) and Linfield College (1939).
2nd Lt., US Marine Corps, 1st Marine Aircraft Group, Quantico, VA, 1939-41.  Had 17 carrier landings in the F3F and F4F on the USS Wasp (CV-7) and USS Ranger (CV-4).
AVG Service: Was recruited for the AVG with Chuck Older and Tom Haywood.  After resigning his officer's commission with US Marine Corps, he signed a one-year contract in 1941 with Central Aircraft Manufacturing Co., a covert cover for the AVG.  He joined a group of other volunteers in San Francisco and set sail for Hong Kong on Aug. 26, 1941.  From there they sailed to Singapore and then boarded an English flagged ship to Rangoon, Burma.  The trio soon joined up with the AVG at their base at Keydaw Airfield, near Toungoo, Burma. Ken was assigned to the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, "Hells Angels." Later, Ken moved to Mingaladon Airfield and Magwe in Burm.  Then he moved to Loiwing, Mengshi, and Kunming in China.  He flew P-40B's and P-40E's in combat in Burma and China and participated in the first air battles over Rangoon on December 23 and 25, 1941.  He would become the AVG's fifth-ranking ace with 10.5 kills.
Post AVG, WWII:
Experimental Test Pilot at Republic Aviation, Long Island, NY, 1943-45.  Completed extensive tests on the P-47B through the N model. Flew every WWII fighter aircraft and really enjoyed the P-38's, P-51's, F4U Corsairs, and F6F's.  Prior to a test flight in an F6F, he met Charles Lindbergh.  Lindy took the first flight in the aircraft, but on his final approach, the landing gear wouldn't come down.  After several high altitude dives, the gear dropped into place.  Later Ken jokingly thanked Lindbergh for checking out the plane for him.  "He was really a nice guy and would talk with everybody."
Post War Career:
Coca Cola Bottler 1946-1991
Mayor of Hood River - 1959-1961 and 1989-1991
Oregon State Representative 1967
Oregon State Senator 1969 - 1991
Completely retired since 1991
Namesake for Hood River's Ken Jernstedt Airfield, June 2001.

Information updated by Mike Allegre

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