Jackson County

F/O James Kirchoff



Kirchhoffs Receive Tidings Of Son Missing In Action.

Mr. and Mrs. Ed Kirchoff received encouraging news regarding their son, Flight Officer Jimmie Kirchoff, who was reported missing in action Nov. 20, 1944. A buddy who was engineer officer of the crew, and was captured by the Germans the same time, has recently returned to Chicago, and informed them by telephone Sunday night that Jimmie was captured by the Germans after he had suffered a leg fracture. Later he was rescued by the partisans who took him into the underground in Slovakia.

According to a secret communication with him, his friends learned he was receiving good care, but further communication was not attempted because of the risks involved. It is hoped that a message may be received soon.
His brother, Staff Sgt. Bobbie Kirchhoff is still located in Italy and expects to be retained there for some time.

Source: Jackson Sentinel, June 8, 1945


Reburial service was held in Maquoketa Wednesday afternoon for Flight Officer James Kirchhoff, who died in Czechoslavakia on December 27, 1944. The Rev. M. M. Powers, chaplin of Timber City American Legion Post, officiated and the combined ceremonial squad of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars accorded military honors. Interment was in Mt. Hope cemetery.
Lt. Kirchhoff, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kirchhoff, was 20 years old at the time of his death. He received his wings in the spring of 1944 and went overseas in autumn. He was reported missing in action over Czechoslovakia November 20, 1944, after he had baled out of his crippled bomber. After his parachute jump, the young officer was rescued by members of the Czechoslovakian partisan party, who kept him in hiding. However, members of the Gestapo found and executed him along with two young civilians who were protecting.

His parents were notified in December 1944 that he had died, but it wasn't until October 1945 when they learned he had been executed by a Nazi execution squad.

Because his parents gave a large sum of money in his honor that Maquoketa's swimming pool might become a reality. The pool will be named the James Kirchhoff Memorial pool. Surviving besides his parents are two brothers, Robert and William J. and a sister, Lois Ann, all of Maquoketa.

Source: Jackson Sentinel, June 17, 1949

Flight Officer James Kirchhoff - BIO

James Kirchhoff attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a college student experiencing life away from his family's home in Maquoketa. Meanwhile across the Atlantic Ocean war broke out under the misguided notions of Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler. As he invaded European countries and World War II ensued, U. S. citizens feared involvement and repercussions. Feeling a higher calling at such a chaotic time in history, Kirchhoff left his university studies for flight training. By 1943 he was a U. S. Army-Air Force flight officer with a bomber crew of the 459th Bomb Group, 759th Squadron, 15th Air Force, flying from England over a Hitler-held Europe. The crew included men from Tennessee, California, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky.
According to the missing air crew report filed by the Army-Air Force on November 22, 1944, Kirchhoff and nine other men left Giuilia Field, Italy to carry out bombardment strategies. The target: Hodonin, Czechoslovakia. Weather conditions remained clear over the target when the crew set out November 22, 1944. The visibility was listed at 15 miles.

According to the official report, the plane was attacked by enemy fighters. When the bomber was last sighted, an engine was on fire and the aircraft was out of control. The pilot, Ernest Appleby, Jr. of Nashville, Tenn., issued the order to jump.

Trying to learn a bit more information about Kirchhoff's final days in Czechoslovakia, I searched the Internet to learn more about the countryside where his aircraft went down. It's commonplace in my generation, but it's still amazing to me to see how much information one can find simply by typing a name in the search box and clicking "search." I found my eyes glazed over a bit as I tried to read the words on the Stara, Tura, Slovakia Web site to which I was directed. That city had a symbolic gravesite dedicated in Kirchhoff's honor. as well as a park. Information about Kirchhoff's final days there is featured in one of the city's tourism brochures-a walking tour of the city and places of interest. That tourism brochure provided names to go with the story of how Kirchhoff was taken in, given shelter, and later discovered and executed during the Christmas season of 1944.

Kirchhoff was given shelter by a teacher from Stara Tura named Stanislav Hlubocky. The teacher already was hiding a seriously ill brother, a partisan of the Czech cause.

Czechoslovakia was already dealing with its own political unrest at that time. You either agreed with the regime or you were hunted and killed.

Mrs. Hlubocky wrote in a letter to Kirchhoff's family in Maquoketa dated June 26, 1946, "James has told us the engine caught fire. Ten American soldiers had to make a parachute jump. One of the soldiers was killed, one was caught by Gestapo (secret state police noted for brutality in Nazi Germany) and eight were rescued by partisans. James fell far from the others and was rescued by a young partisan, who worked with my brother, Ondrej Chorvat. The young partisan was was Pavel Harustiak. He brought James to the house in Podkozince, a local part of the community of Lubina, gave him a national costume with an embroidered shirt so as not to differ from the others."

The letter continued, "When Pavel was afraid of being caught, he took James to the hamlet of Sus to Marin Kyska." Kirchhoff apparently mailed a letter to the Army-Air Force during this time. It stated that he had broken his leg, which had been set, but other than that he was in good health. Circumstances wouldn't stay that way for long. The same Army-Air Force official received a letter from Mrs. Emily Simek of Brezova Pod Bradlow, Czechoslovakia, dated Sept. 30, 1945, that Kirchhoff had been executed, along with two partisans, by the Gestapo after having been tortured because of suspected activity with those partisans. Fearing for their lives Kirchhoff and the partisans removed to the family home of Hlubocky. They were discovered by the Gestapo, dragged away, presumably tortured and executed.

The bodies were found in a mass grave after World War II ended. Kirchhoff was temporarily buried at the cemetery Stara Tura.

The Air Force lists Kirchhoff's date of death as Dec. 28, 1944, in Stara Tura, Czechoslovakia. Kirchhoff's remains were brought back to Maquoketa in 1949 for reburial in Mount Hope Cemetery.

Source: Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, March 17, 2012
By Kelly Gerlach


Note: Photo shown below was received from an individual in Slovakia on 12 June 2016. Added to post by IAGenWeb volunteer coordinator Rich Lowe.