Darwin Keith Kyle
Darwin Keith Kyle was born June 1, 1921, in Jenkins, Kentucky, to Charles and Pearl Keffer Kyle. Darwin’s mother was born and raised in Midway, West Virginia. She and her husband moved to Jenkins during World War I where Charles worked for a brief time. It was during their stay in Kentucky that Darwin, who was called “Gus,” was born. The family returned to West Virginia when Gus was very young, and he grew up and received his education in Midway, located in the Big Coal River area of Boone County.
|On July 15, 1944, Gus Kyle married Betty Alice Totten, and the couple became the parents of two daughters, Donna Kay and Nancy Carol.|
Gus Kyle’s military service spanned both World War II and Korea. During World War II, he was credited with single-handedly carrying out an operation in which several tanks were destroyed and which saved the lives of several comrades. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
|After hostilities broke out in Korea, Master Sgt. Darwin Kyle, with Company K, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, proved his valor again. In December 1950, Kyle directed removal of the wounded from the Hungnam beachhead while under fire and was recognized for his gallantry. He received a battlefield commission as a lieutenant, his lieutenant bars being presented by Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgeway. He also was awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star. On February 16, 1951, Lieutenant Kyle was leading an attack on Hill 185, and during this charge his platoon came under heavy enemy fire. At one point Kyle charged the position and was killed by submachine fire. For his gallantry and self-sacrifice Lt. Darwin Kyle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the citation stating:|
When his platoon had been pinned down by intense fire, he completely exposed himself to move among and encourage his men to continue the advance against enemy forces strongly entrenched on Hill 185. Inspired by his courageous leadership, the platoon resumed the advance but was again pinned down when an enemy machinegun opened fire, wounding six of the men. Lieutenant Kyle immediately charged the hostile emplacement alone, engaged the crew in hand-to-hand combat, killing all three. Continuing on toward the objective, his platoon suddenly received an intense automatic-weapons fire from a well-concealed hostile position on its right flank. Again leading his men in a daring bayonet charge against this position, firing his carbine and throwing grenades, Lieutenant Kyle personally destroyed four of the enemy before he was killed by a burst from an enemy submachinegun.
The body of Lt. Darwin “Gus’ Kyle was returned to the United States and on September 27, 1951, was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston.
In 1955, a new school in South Charleston was named Kyle Elementary School in his honor. In May 1996 a bridge in Madison was dedicated in memory of Darwin Kyle with a ceremony attended by his sister Mable Foster and brother William.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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