Kirton was born in Montana in December 1909 and entered the Army in August 1942, rising to major. In 1947, he transferred to the Air Force and rose to colonel by 1954. He also held the Bronze Star awarded in 1945 for service with XX Bomber Command. In 1947, Major Kirton forwarded a document to the FBI reporting that an object recovered at Roswell, New Mexico, had been a weather balloon, putting him at the center of the controversy about UFOs and extra-terrestrial beings. In 1960, Kirton was the air attache in Moscow when the Russians accused him of setting up a spy apparatus and expelling him from the country. Two Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States in retaliation. This was in the wake of the Russian shoot-down of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2. In 1962, Col Kirton was working at the Defense Intelligence Agency.