Admiral George E.R. “Gus” Kinnear, II will be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, May 6, 2016. The distinguished naval aviator passed away peacefully at the age of 87 August 9, 2015 at his home in York Harbor, Maine surrounded by his loving family.
Kinnear was born in Mounds, Oklahoma and raised in Brooksville, Florida. The family relocated to a citrus farm in Brooksville following his father's return from service in WWI. Admiral Kinnear left high school on his 17th birthday and enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II. Even though he had neither a high school diploma nor a college degree he became a commissioned officer and obtained the rank of admiral. He later earned degrees in Engineering Management (PhD) and a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University. He also received a MA in Personnel Management and a BA in Physical Science and Mathematics from George Washington University and graduated from the Naval War College and the Naval Postgraduate School.
Gus, as he was known by both close friends and acquaintances, was an extraordinary naval officer and aviator who played a vital role in numerous defining events that changed history during his 37 year career. He logged more than 100 combat missions in Korea and during Vietnam he piloted more different aircraft types in combat than any naval aviator.
His sea duty assignments included the aircraft carriers USS Shangri-La, USS Princeton, USS Lake Champlain, USS Kitty Hawk and USS Ranger. He made the transition from reciprocating aircraft to jets by “riding in the back seat” on numerous missions and, with no formal training, took control of his own aircraft and accumulated over 6,000 flight hours and more than 1,000 carrier arrested landings.
As a combat aviator Admiral Kinnear received many decorations for valor including the Legion of Merit, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, and more than a dozen Air Medals.
He was a major part of planning the U.S. response to the seizure of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans in 1968, working directly with the White House. His major command tours included Carrier Air Wing Two, the Navy’s first all-jet air wing, Naval Air Station Miramar, California, and Carrier Group One. While commanding Carrier Group One, Kinnear implemented “Outlaw Hawk”, the Navy’s first carrier-based digital command and control system.
His first ship command, USS Spiegel Grove, was designated the South Atlantic recovery vessel for the Apollo 13 lunar mission, and he would later receive a special commendation for preventing the ship from sinking when a ruptured pipe flooded the engine room. His illustrious career as a naval aviator included sub-specialties in Research and Development, Human Resources and Financial Management and included additional assignments as Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Chief of Legislative Affairs, Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel, Special Assistant for Financial Management, and Assistant Comptroller for Cost Review and Reporting.
While serving in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations he was instrumental in the procurement programs for the F/A-18 and Harpoon missile programs. As Chief of Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, Kinnear was the primary liaison between the Navy and congress. He developed numerous relationships at the highest levels of the Pentagon as well as with Congressional and Executive branch officials, including the President of the United States.
Following his retirement from the Navy Kinnear became Senior Vice President of Grumman International and held several key positions in the business, education, and civic communities. As Chairman of the Retired Officers Association he was instrumental in establishing the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A humble, gracious and down-to-earth gentleman Gus was a true patriot and American hero. He was as comfortable and at ease among the most junior enlisted personnel as he was with senior officers and statesmen.
Admiral Kinnear played a vital role in the mission of Naval Aviation and his loss is mourned by all who were fortunate enough to have known and served with him. He is survived by his many family members.
A memorial service will be held at the Old Post Chapel on Fort Meyer adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery at 12:45 pm on May 6. The service will be followed by a procession starting at the Chapel Gate through the cemetery to the funeral service. Full military honors, including a U.S Navy missing man fly over will be conducted.