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Kiffen Rockwell marker.

Graveyard Memorial: USA's First Air Ace

Field review by the editors.

Morristown, Tennessee

Kiffen Rockwell either loved war, hated Germans, or possibly both. He was one of the first three Americans to enlist with the French forces after the start of World War I, years before America officially became involved. He eventually became a pilot, but only because he had been shot and wounded so many times that he feared the Army wouldn't put him back in combat.

Kiffen really blossomed in his new job, and became the first American pilot to shoot down an enemy plane in aerial combat in May 1916. He then went on to shoot down several more Germans and become America's first air "ace." He survived almost 150 dogfights (despite being wounded again) but his luck ran out on Sept. 23, 1916 -- three days after his 24th birthday -- when he was shot through the head by a German plane he was attacking (His plane reportedly crashed only a few feet from where his first German kill had crashed).

Kiffen Rockwell's connection to Morristown is that the rest of his family is buried there, so it seemed right that his pseudo-grave should be there, too, even though he's buried in France.

Also see: Sky Kings

Graveyard Memorial: USA's First Air Ace

Emma Jarnagin Cemetery

S. Fairmont Ave., Morristown, TN
Emma Jarnagin Cemetery. Look for the tall obelisk in the traffic circle; the Rockwell family monument is just beyond in, resembling a tall tree stump. Kiffen Rockwell's plaque is next to the sidewalk.
Gates open daily 7:30-dusk. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Davy Crockett Replica TavernDavy Crockett Replica Tavern, Morristown, TN - 3 mi.
Rock City Barn - See 7 StatesRock City Barn - See 7 States, Rutledge, TN - 11 mi.
Archie Campbell Museum and HomeplaceArchie Campbell Museum and Homeplace, Bulls Gap, TN - 13 mi.
In the region:
Peter Toth Giant Indian Head, Cherokee, NC - 49 mi.

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