The son of a Civil War officer, William Kenly was born in 1864, graduating from West Point in 1889 with a specialty in field artillery, before seeing action during the Philippine-American War. In 1917, Kenly would be made Chief of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, putting him in charge of American military aviation in France and in 1918 he would be made Director of Military Aeronautics. An artillerist by trade with no personal aviation experience, he was subject to heavy influence by officers like Billy Mitchell and Henry Arnold, who would later be regarded as founding fathers of the modern United States Air Force. Retiring in 1919, Kenly held the rank of Major General with the National Army (a brevet rank granted for use during the war) and Colonel with the Regular Army (his permanent rank), having reverted to the latter once the war ended; while this sort of rank reversion is not as dire or insulting as a demotion in permanent rank, contemporary articles did describe this reversion as effectively an insult, attributing it to a political conflict over the maintenance of a permanent air service within the Army. Having passed on in 1928, he is buried in Arlington Cemetery, with both ranks listed on his tombstone. Along with the aforementioned article, the paper goods include a calling card for Kenly with his DMA title, a 1917 dated registration certificate, and two postcards made out to a Lieutenant William L. Kenly (note: Kenly's father and son were both also named William L. Kenly) informing them of the arrival of AEF members in Europe. Among the insignia is a miniature ribbon bar with 9 ribbons, which include the Distinguished Service Medal, Order of the Bath, and the French Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. Also present is a variety of small buttons/pins, a number of rank insignia from 2nd Lieutenant to a General's star (no Captain rank), U.S./U.S.R. lapel pins, Artillery and Signal Corps lapel pins, a British coin that appears to have suffered a bullet or shrapnel strike, and a silver-bodied Cross brand fountain pen with "W.L.K." initials. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection
Very good overall, with heavier wear on a few of the items.
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