Leonard Kittle’s family reliving heartbreak once again



Family members of Pvt. Leonard Kittle hope to bring his remains back to Caney for a military service, as soon as DNA tests are finished.

DNA test kits have been sent to family members in hopes of identifying specific pieces of equipment such as dog tags or helmets, or possible bone fragments.

Kittle’s wife, Saundra Kozak of East Troy, Wis., said being brought back home to Caney is what the soldier would have wanted.

“Caney meant so much to him,” she said. “He grew up there, and I also lived there. We think he would have liked being buried beside his mother at Sunnyside Cemetery.”

She said Army officials are already talking about flying to Caney for a service, and it may take some time to get all the DNA testing completed.

Kozak said she was shocked to get the telephone call from an Army official last week, informing her of the news.

“We always knew about the crash, how many were killed and which mountain the airplane hit,” she said. “And, once we learned details, there was no doubt that everyone on board died.”

Still, she said his parents never gave up.

“They always held out hope that he would be found alive,” she said.
Kozak said Pvt. Kittle had spent four weeks in Caney — just before the plane crash on Nov. 22, 1952.
“He got a 30-day leave so he could come home to see our little daughter who had just been born,” said Kozak. “We had a special time together, and it gave him a chance to get to know the baby, whom we named Linda.”

She said Kittle called her on the telephone when he arrived at McChord Air Field, Wash., before departing for Alaska.

“He was nervous about flying on to Alaska where he was stationed,” she said. “I gave him the assurance that everything would be OK, but he had a sense of foreboding — he seemed to know.”

His wife was a Caney girl, too (her father’s name was Earl Sanders).

“I loved dating, then marrying Leonard,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many miles I rode on the back of his motorcyle. He also loved fast cars. We had so much fun.”

She and her aunt Beatrice Crawford both spoke of Leonard’s zest for life, how popular he was among his friends, and how he enjoyed playing basketball and football for Caney High School.

He and his cousin, J.C. Young, were the best of friends, and he also was good friends with Don Whittington (both of whom are deceased), she said.

“He died way too young,” she said, “and getting this news about the plane on that mountain has reopened our grief. We’re all in shock, yet we’re so glad that we might be bringing him home soon.”
“It would make him very happy — I can tell you that for sure.”

Family members of Army Pvt. Leonard Kittle say their recent contacts by the U.S. Army has revived their grieving.

“It has always been sad, just because none of those men’s remains were ever found,” said Kittle’s sister, Beatrice Crawford of Bartlesville. “I must admit, I’ve shed some tears since getting that call last week.”

Crawford said she gladly sent her DNA sample kit back to the U.S. Army, hoping it will help identify any remains or property belonging to Kittle.

But after 60 years, there probably won’t be much to find, Army officials have told the family.
“Even if we only get his dog tags, it would give us some closure,” said Crawford who is the lone surviving sibling of the Caney soldier. Brothers James and Augusta Kittle did not live to receive last week’s news that the C-124 Globemaster had been located.

Crawford said her parents, Hazard and Betty Kittle, took the news of their son’s airplane crash in a hard way.

“My mother and dad would turn on the radio to see if the news had anything on survivors,” she said. “Then my dad would turn off the radio — wouldn’t listen to entertainment of any kind. We didn’t even have Christmas for several years after that.”

The elder Kittle bought a headstone for his son, and it still stands in the Caney Sunnyside Cemetery, in the space beside his mother.

That’s where family members hope to place any remains of Pvt. Kittle that might be found.

“All these years, nothing but a stone,” his sister said. “It’s so sad.”

The little baby who was born to Leonard and Saundra Kittle in 1952 now lives in the same town where her mother lives — East Troy, Wis.

Linda Erickson can’t remember her father, but she has become quite involved over the past week in trying to locate old photos and other personal items belong to her father.

“It is giving all of us some closure on a man who has always been my hero,” she said. “My mother talks about him sometimes, but here recently we’ve really talked a lot and I’ve learned so much about him.

“I wish I could remember him, but I’m glad that he got to know me, even if only for a few weeks.”

In November 1952, the Caney Daily Chronicle carried news stories of the disappearance of the airplane that carried Caney’s Leonard Kittle. In a story printed on Nov. 25, 1952, editor H.K. “Skeet” George penned these thoughts as he reported on the trauma and tragedy befalling the family of a fallen Caney soldier.

“The terrible moments of anxiety and heartache that drag into hours . . . and hours into days . . . are being experienced by members of the H.A. Kittle household, 519 N. Wood, where the youthful wife, the father, mother, brothers and sisters await word of the fate of a loved one, listed as missing in action in one of the armed forces’ largest transport planes . . .

“At such a time as this, the only thing possible to do is wait and pray. Friends of the family, sharing in the ordeal of grief and anxiety, can do little else.

“They can reflect, however, that as a Caney High School athlete from 1945 to 1949, Leonard Kittle was a wiry, capable, resourceful boy with a lot of initiative and a lot of determination. If that plane landed with the Caney soldier still having a fighting chance for survival, the Caney boy is the type who would come through.

“Leonard Kittle was that kind of boy. As the emotions of the community run the full scale from despair to hope — and always to prayer — the people who watched this boy perform in athletics cling to the memories of this ability in that phase of life as a hope that he will come safely home.”

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Two arrested following drug search in Dearing

One Dearing man was arrested and a Coffeyville man with a previous arrest on narcotics charges was subsequently detained following a search of a home in Dearing on May 1.

Detective Chris Williams said the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and the Coffeyville Police Department issued a search warrant for 103 Lemon in Dearing, where law enforcement found methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and cash in a motor home.

Arrested at the scene was Robert Joseph Mikel, who was transported to the Montgomery County Jail to await charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

While conducting the search warrant at 103 Lemon, a sheriff’s deputy spotted a passing motorist who was later identified as Patrick Robinson of Coffeyville. Robinson was bond from a previous narcotic arrest. The deputy attempted to stop Robinson in his vehicle; however, Robinson failed to comply with the deputy’s request, Williams said.

“Robinson was ordered out of the vehicle and was taken into custody after a short struggle with officers,” said Williams, adding that Robinson was taken to the Montgomery County Jail in Independence without further incident.

Robinson will be charged with obstruction of the an official law enforcement duty and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Citizens with information about this case or any other criminal case can call the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at (620) 330-1000 or 1-800-498-1019.

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Casey’s General Store robbed in Coffeyville


The Coffeyville Police Department is seeking two black males who robbed the Casey’s General Store at gunpoint tonight (April 29) at 102 N. Cline in Coffeyville. According to a text message from the police department, one of the men wore a red hoodie while the other wore a blue hoodie. Both had long-barrel guns and left in a two-door red car. If seen, call 911 immediately.

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Contractor inadvertently severs Coffeyville school’s power line

COFFEYVILLE — A contractor on Monday inadvertently struck a power line serving Roosevelt Middle School, causing smoke to fill the middle school building.


No injuries were reported, and all RMS teachers and staff were led out of the building to Ise Athletic Field while members of the Coffeyville Fire Department cleared the building of smoke.


Bob Roesky, fire captain, said a contractor with Cox Communication was boring a hole to install fiber optic cable when he hit the power line. That caused the power to go out in the building and the smoke to billow from the hole.


Most of the students were at lunch at the time of the incident.


Because of the damage to the power line, RMS classes were canceled on Tuesday. Students were expected to return to their regular class schedule on Wednesday; however, middle school classes are scheduled to be moved to Field Kindley High School.

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Former Havana city clerk receives supervised released

WICHITA, KAN. – A former city clerk for the city of Havana, Kan., was sentenced Wednesday to two years supervised release, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said. She also was ordered to pay a total of more than $59,000 in restitution to the City of Havana, Cross Point Baptist Church and an insurance company


Diana L. Cox, age 67, of Havana pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud. In her plea, she admitted embezzling $14,658 from the city of Havana while she was working as city clerk. On Aug. 18, 2011, she presented documents to the Arvest Bank in Caney, Kan., falsely stating that the Havana City Council had voted to change its policy to require only one signature on checks written for city business.

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Whooping cough case reported in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Health Department is reporting a case of pertussis (whooping cough) in the county.


“It is critical that children, as well as their parents, get vaccinated for pertussis to prevent this difficult and highly contagious illness, which can be easily spread to other family members and community members,” said Montgomery County Health Department director Carolyn Muller. “This should help reduce the number of cases in children who are too young to be fully vaccinated.”

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Cherryvale man charged in federal court on child porn

WICHITA, KAN. – A Cherryvale has been charged in federal court in Wichita on two charges dealing with child pornography.


U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today (Friday) that Daniel Hosier, age 34, of Cherryvale is charged with one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in March and July 2013 in Montgomery County.

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Wahl, Anthony to be newest faces on Caney City Council

CANEY — Ralph Anthony and Zoe Wahl were the winners in the contested city council elections in Caney on Tuesday.


Anthony garnered the most votes in the ward 2 council race. Anthony received 15 votes compared to incumbent city councilor Josh Eaton, who had 10 votes. Nick Wood received five votes.


In ward 4, Wahl was the top winner in the two-person race with 24 votes. Dwaine Hodges received 20 votes.


The two other council races were uncontested. In ward 1, incumbent councilor Nathan Byrd was re-elected to a two-year term with 10 votes. Ward 3 incumbent councilor Dan Vernon was re-elected with 11 votes.


Byrd, Anthony, Vernon and Wahl will assume the oath of office at the Caney City Council meeting next Monday, April 7.





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Southwire to close Coffeyville plant; 200 jobs affected

March 25, 2014

COFFEYVILLE — Coffeyville and Montgomery County were dealt a major blow with Tuesday’s announcement that Southwire Company will phase out its Coffeyville plant by March 2015.

Some 200 jobs will be impacted at the Coffeyville wire manufacturing center. Southwire is one of the top 20 employers in Montgomery County.
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Independent study being offered in 911 consolidation talks

(UPDATED STORY from version that was printed in the March 13th issue)


Separate city commissions  in Montgomery County on Tuesday addressed plans by the Montgomery County Commission to pursue consolidation of 911 dispatching services in the county.

And, each commission sent different messages as to how those plans should continue.

At a meeting of the Independence City Commission, commissioners recommended a pause in the consolidation plans so that an independent study could be created on the costs of consolidation and whether the existing 911 systems in Montgomery County are effective and efficient. Police chief Harry Smith said that he has mentioned a desire at previous 911 consolidation meetings to have an independent study but that he had been met “by a brick wall” each time it was suggested.

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