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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Kenneth Lee Porter, was born in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1896. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he enlisted in the Army in May, 1917 and completed his training at the University of Illinois that same October. From there, Porter was selected to attend flying training with the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, where he earned his Military Aviator rating. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Service and assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron in January, 1918.
Flying the Nieuport 28, Porter scored his first victory on July 2, 1918. That August, the 147th Aero Squadron was re-equipped with the SPAD XIII, and it was in that plane that he scored four more victories, successfully making him an "Ace" on October 12, 1918. Two days before his final victory, Porter became the commander of C Flight. He was also credited with three unconfirmed victories and survived being shot down and crash-landing three separate times.
Porter has been granted the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and the Croix de Guerre for his skill and bravery in both air-to-ground attacks and air-to-air, or "dog," fighting.
After World War I, Porter resumed his career in engineering and worked for Boeing during World War II. While at Boeing he helped develop the hydraulic system for the Martin B-26 Marauder. Porter was also a member of the United States Fighting Pilots Association. He died on February 3, 1988 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery as one of the last surviving Aces of World War I.
Kenneth Lee Porter was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 18, 2009 for his lifelong dedication to aviation both militarily and commercially.