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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


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Floyd Bennett Field Pilot
Robert Munkittrick, Ca. 1918 (Source: Woodling)
Robert Munkittrick, Ca. 1918 (Source: Woodling)

Robert "Munk" Munkittrick was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire September 9, 1887. His father was William Walter Munkittrick and his mother Agnes Houghton Sholes. Interestingly, records at ancestry.com indicate that he and his brother were baptized in the Church of England in Canada on January 12, 1888. Both his parents were born in Canada. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, they were divorced and Munkittrick lived with his mother and brother Willie in Peterborough.

The 1910 Census cited Munkittrick as 22 years, rooming at 272 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. His occupation was identified as "Automobile Chauffeur." He enlisted in Navy April 16, 1917. I do not know where or when he learned to fly. During WWI he possibly served in the Navy as a stateside pilot, accumulating, “one hundred hours of active service, air patrol.”

The 1920 Census placed him as a single man aboard the U.S.S. Isabel as a Chief Machinist’s Mate. His home was listed as 54 Saxton St., Dorchester, MA. In 1921, Munkintrick was a crewman on a navy altitude contest. He was a member of Combat Squadron 4 based in San Diego, CA.

The article, below, from the Seattle Times, August 14, 1921, describes the event. There was a navy Lt. Irvine who was a Register pilot, but he did not cite his first name or initial, so it is impossible to know if he was he Irvine in this article. Their Loening reached 9,500 feet.

Seattle Times, August 14, 1921 (Source: Woodling)
Seattle Times, August 14, 1921 (Source: Woodling)

Regardless, their record was set over Los Angeles, so he must have traveled west between the 1920 Census and this flight. Their airplane pictured above looks like a Loening M-8, of which one, A-5631, was assigned to the navy in 1919. That they only achieved 9,500 feet was curious, because in the hands of army pilots, the same model achieved 21,000 feet in 1919. This is the only photograph I have of Munkittrick. If you have others you would like to share, please let me KNOW.

In both the 1922 & 1923 Boston City Directories, Munkittrick was identified as an Aviator living at 54 Saxton St. with his mother, Agnes. Later in 1923 he was listed in the San Diego City Directory, employed by the USN and living at 124 Broadway.

Long before tobacco was considered unhealthful, the Bridgeport Telegram (CT), below, of November 15, 1926 cited Munkittrick among 50 winners of $10 prizes in an Old Gold cigarettes headline contest. His address was given as a post office box in Chicopee, MA. I do not know if he moved back east between 1923 and 1926, or if the post office box was just a mail drop for him and/or his mother.

Bridgeport Telegram (CT), November 15, 1926 (Source: newspapers.com)
Bridgeport Telegram (CT), November 15, 1926 (Source: newspapers.com)

Munkittrick married Leona Marheineke about 1925-26. The 1927 & 1929 San Diego City Directories placed him living there with Leona. The 1930 Census, coded April 10, 1930, placed Munkittrick at age 41 living in San Diego with his wife and two children by Leona's (35) previous marriage (son Carl, 15, and daughter Cecil, 13). His occupation was Chief Machinist's Mate in the U.S. Navy. Leona was not employed outside their home.

Interestingly, and this has me stumped, another 1930 Census form, this one coded three days earlier, on April 7, 1930, placed Munkittrick in Panama, C.Z., age 42, based at the Coco Solo Air Station. I have no explanation for this unless it is the world's greatest coincidence of two people of the same age with the same name and the same birthplace, New Hampshire, serving in the U.S. Navy.

Regardless, Munkittrick was signed on page one of the Floyd Bennett Field Register on March 24, 1933 at 10:30PM. In the Register, he noted for his type of aircraft "OTU-2." There is no aircraft so designated. If he was flying in a Douglas O-2, and he was in a Training Unit ("TU"), that might explain the designation. But that's a stretch. Regardless, he arrived at Floyd Bennett from Lakehurst, NJ. His was the only signature in the Register for a week or more either side of his visit. There was no other Navy pilot listed on that page that would make me think he might have flown in and out as a passenger.

Sometime between the 1930 Census and 1935 he and Leona divorced. Munkittrick married Gladys G. Ritchie in California in 1935. He and Gladys appeared in the Long Beach City Directory for 1935. On August 10, 1940, he was assigned to the 13th Naval District, Bremerton, WA, below.

U.S. Navy Muster Roll, August, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)
U.S. Navy Muster Roll, August, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)

He appeared in the Bremerton City Directory living at 632 Burwell St. (the Commodore Hotel), an employee at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. It was not clear if Gladys was with him. In a similar muster roll, he was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA on August 5, 1941.

Oakland Tribune, June 5, 1942 (Source: newspapers.com)
Oakland Tribune, June 5, 1942 (Source: newspapers.com)


Munkittrick was an accomplished bowler and was cited in many issues of the Oakland Tribune for his winning bowling scores. He was referred to as, "...the gold-plated chief aviation machinist's mate" in one article for his bowling skills. The Tribune of June 5, 1942 reported his contributions right. Although several of the articles included photographs of navy bowlers, Munkittrick was not among those photographed.

Munkittrick was discharged from active duty in November, 1945. He flew West April 20, 1947 at age 60. He is buried at Bremerton, WA. His grave marker is below.

R.J. Munkittrick, Grave Marker, April 20, 1947 (Source: findagrave.com)


Below is Gladys Munkittrick's application for a military grave marker for her husband. Note that she applied for an upright marble headstone. She received and placed the flat granite marker as above, left.


R.J. Munkittrick, Application for Military Grave Marker, April, 1947 (Source: ancestry.com)
R.J. Munkittrick, Application for Military Grave Marker, April, 1947 (Source: ancestry.com)




The Register

I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Munkittrick to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.


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