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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Lester Kickland World War II Photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2015-06-15
This small collection is comprised of 59 photographs taken by and featuring Lester Jay Kickland while he was stationed in the Pacific theater during World War II where he helped to build island airfields. The photographs were primarily taken between April and September of 1945 at locations on Iejima (formerly Ie Shima), but may also include images from Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Photographs feature nose art on various types of American aircraft, a coral runway on Iejima as well as other airfields, local Okinawans, a delegation of Japanese civilians and soldiers led by Lieutenant General Torashirō Kawabe en route to Manila for surrender negotiations, the gravesite of American war correspondent Ernie Pyle, and other cemeteries for American soldiers. Please note that some of the photographs of nose art contain nudity.


  • circa 1940s


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.1 Cubic Feet (2 letter-size folders)

Biographical Note: Lester Kickland

Lester Jay Kickland served in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Kickland was born on June 11, 1921 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the United States Armed Forces in 1942. His service led him to working on airfields Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Iejima near the end of World War II. After the war, Kickland moved to Washington, married in 1950, and became a carpenter for the Weyerhaeuser Company. He passed away in Everett, Washington in 2011 at the age of 90.

Biographical note derived from collection materials.
Biographical Note: Ernie Pyle Ernest "Ernie" Taylor Pyle was a well renowned correspondent during World War II.

Pyle was born on August 3, 1900 in Dana, Indiana. After studying journalism at Indiana University, he became a correspondent for the Scripps-Howard newspaper. He shifted to journalism abroad when World War II broke out. He traveled to England in 1940 to cover the Battle of Britain and later covered campaigns in North Africa, Sicily and France. Pyle was one of the more widely read correspondents during the war with his columns appearing in hundreds of newspapers. His focus on the resolve and heroism of infantrymen in these campaigns led to him being awarded a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1944.

In 1945, he began coverage of operations in the Pacific theater. While American forces were in the midst of capturing the island of Iejima, Pyle was killed by machine gun fire from a hidden Japanese emplacement on April 18, 1945. Pyle was buried at the 77th Infantry Division's cemetery on Iejima with a crude marker that later became a memorial: "At this spot the 77th Division lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, April 18, 1945." The 1945 motion picture "G.I. Joe" is based on his experience as a war correspondent.

Biographical note derived from collection materials and the following resources:
  • Appleman, Roy, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, and John Stevens. “Okinawa: The Last Battle.” Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, 1948. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • “Ernie Pyle: American Journalist.” Encyclopeaedia Brittanica. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • “Reporting America at War, The Reporters: Ernie Pyle.” PBS. Accessed October 24, 2019.
Historical Note: United States Armed Forces on Iejima, 1945 Iejima, formerly known by its anglicized name Ie Shima, is a small island off the western coast of Okinawa, Japan. Between April 16 and April 24th, the United States armed forces battled the deeply entrenched Japanese defenses. The battle was costly on both sides: over 4,700 Japanese soldiers and 1,100 American soldiers were killed in the engagement. After American forces captured the island, they rapidly developed it into an airfield with runways constructed from coral and rubble from the town of Ie. On August 19, 1945, a Japanese delegation of 16 civilians and soldiers led by Imperial Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Torashirō Kawabe onboard two Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers painted white with green crosses landed at Iejima. Hundreds of American soldiers stationed on Iejima stood at the airfield to watch as the white aircraft were escorted down by P-38 and B-25 aircraft. The delegation debarked and then boarded a C-47 that would take them to Manila for surrender negotiations with General Douglas MacArthur.

Historical Note derived from collection materials and the following resources:
  • “Account of Japanese Surrender Delegation Arriving at Ie Shima, Okinawa, 19 August 1945.” Combat Air Museum. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • Appleman, Roy, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, and John Stevens. “Okinawa: The Last Battle.” Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, 1948. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • O’Malley, Dave. “A Green Cross to Bear: The Japanese Surrender Flights.” Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • United States National Archives. “Black and White and Color Photographs of U.S. Air Force and Predecessor Agencies Activities, Facilities, and Personnel - World War II.” Fold3. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  • Wilkinson, Stephan. “Mitsubishi G4M: Why Betty Bombed.” HistoryNet. Accessed October 24, 2019.

Related Materials at Other Institutions

The Combat Air Museum of Topeka, Kansas has a similar photograph collection with links to images on the following website: Please note that some of the photographs of nose art contain nudity.
Guide to the Lester Kickland World War II Photographs
Completed - Level 2
L. Rola
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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