• plainfield
  • Union
  • November 29, 1933
  • February 11, 1962
  • Air Force
  • RANK:
  • CAPT
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Edward Knell Kissam, Jr. was born in Plainfield, NJ, on November 29, 1933.  In Plainfield, Kissam attended the Willis School, grades one to six; Roosevelt School, grades seven and eight; and was a 1951 graduate of North Plainfield High School, where he was described as handsome and well-built.  His interests included football and tennis and he was a member of the band and the Key Club.  He also attended the Grant Avenue Presbyterian Church. 

A cadet at Rutgers University, Kissam received a BS degree in civil engineering and was commissioned in the Air Force Reserve in June 1955.  After graduation from Rutgers he was employed as an engineer with United Fuel Company in Charleston, WV.

Restless, Kissam adhered fully to his drive to become a pilot, planning a career in the US Air Force.  Already a Lieutenant, Kissam joined flight school on March 2, 1956, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.  He trained and served until 1958 in Georgia and Texas.  He was then sent to Korea with the Military Air Transport Service.  This service took Kissam around the world.  Earning the rank of Captain (CAPT) upon returning to Charleston, SC, in October 1961, Kissam's next line of service involved re-entering Southeast Asia with the Tactical Air Command.  This time, the place was the Republic of Vietnam.

Captain Kissam spent four months in this war zone, from November 1961 until February 1962.  Some time around the first of February 1962, Kissam was killed in an accidental crash of a C-47 military transport plane near Saigon.  According to the Citation that accompanied his Distinguished Flying Award, Kissam was piloting this aircraft "during an operational mission devoted to the training of aircrews of a friendly power, and under extremely hazardous conditions."

His parents were notified that he was missing via a telegram, and then two weeks later another telegram arrived informing Kissam's parents that he had died.  His official date of death is listed as February 11, 1962.  Captain Kissam was two weeks away from the conclusion of his tour of duty in Vietnam.

"Ed loved the Air Force and he loved to fly," his father was quoted as saying.  Besides his father, Kissam left behind in Plainfield his mother, Mrs. Edward Kissam, Sr.  He also left a brother, Nelson Kissam, and a sister, Mrs. Betty McQueen. 

He was buried in Lake Nelson Memorial Park Cemetery in New Market, NJ, with full military honors.

Kissam received the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Sources: Plainfield Veterans Memorial Committee and NJVVMF.


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