William Joseph Kleinhenz, Pilot
18th SOS, Nakhon Phanom, 1971-72

William “Bill” Kleinhenz was born August 24, 1943 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio to William Joseph Kleinhenz, born May 7, 1917 and Irene Kleinhenz, born January 16, 1921.

Bill entered the USAF through the AFROTC program at Kent State University. On June 16, 1967, he reported as a 2nd Lieutenant to Del Rio AFB, Texas for a “53 week” year of intense pilot training. The year in pilot training was the start to a 20-year career; retiring in September 1, 1987 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The following list details the assignments and positions he held.

  • June 1968 – May 1971, Aircraft Commander, 75th MAS, Travis AFB, CA. Performed domestic, international, and combat operations in the C-141 aircraft.
  • May 1971 – May 1972, Chief, Air Crew Standardization/Evaluation, 18th SOS, Nakhon Phanom AFB, Thailand. Chief pilot for AC-119K Stinger gunship operations during combat in Southeast Asia.
  • May 1972 – Dec 1974, Simulator Instructor, 60th MAW, and Check Pilot, 22nd MAS, Travis, AFB, CA. Trained and evaluated C-5 pilots and air crews.
  • Jan 1975 – Apr 1976, Attended the University of Tennessee to earn his MBA in Transportation Management through the Air Force Institute of Technology program.
  • Apr 1976 – Feb 1980, Chief, Air Terminal Operations Center, 437th APS, Charleston AFB, SC, and Chief, Operating Location N, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Managed the cargo and passenger loading operation at a major terminal, Charleston AFB, and an enroute station, Dhahran AB. In 1979, Bill and his wife Marjorie divorced. During his tour of duty in Saudi Arabia, Bill met Linda, an English nurse on a two-year contract with ARAMCO. On June 26, 1980 they married at the Charleston AFB Chapel.
  • Feb 1980 – Jul 1983, Assistant Squadron Operations Officer, 41st MAS; Chief, Air Crew Standardization/ Evaluation, 437th MAW; and Flight Examiner Aircraft Commander, 20th MAS, Charleston AFB, SC. Chief pilot for C-141 Wing and assisted in the flight operations at squadron level.
  • Jul 1983 – Jul 1985, Commander, 60th Transportation Squadron, Travis AFB, CA. Responsible for over 180 people, and the operations and maintenance of over 860 vehicles and material handling equipment.
  • Aug 1985 – Jul 1987, Chief, Resource Management Division, Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB, IL. Managed Military Airlift Command’s aircrew absorption, distribution, and experience standards for pilots and navigators.

During his career in the Air Force, Bill was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal and other decorations.

In August 1987, Bill was employed by American Airlines as a flight engineer on the Boeing 727 aircraft. Shortly after receiving his wings, Bill and Linda built their house in Raleigh, NC. In May 1990, Bill upgraded to copilot on the 727. In Feb 1995, he retrained as a copilot on the McDonnell Douglas Super 80 aircraft and started flying out of Chicago O’Hare airport. In September 1999, he moved to Greenland, NH and upgraded to Captain on the Super 80 aircraft. Bill’s last flight was flown on 2 Oct 2002