He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, with the newly organized 101st Airborne Division and was decorated for heroism during its drive against German forces in the Netherlands.
When Hitler launched a surprise counteroffensive in December, the 101st, then in France, was rushed into action and seized key road junctions at the Belgian town of Bastogne, where the Americans were quickly surrounded by the enemy.
On Dec. 22, Mr. Kinnard, then a 29-year-old lieutenant colonel and the division's operations officer, was present when four German couriers arrived at the American lines under a flag of truce with a written demand to surrender in two hours or face annihilation.
Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, the 101st's artillery chief and acting division commander in the absence of Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, laughed and remarked, "Us surrender? Aw, nuts," and then wondered aloud how he should reply.
As recalled later by himself and other witnesses, Kinnard suggested that McAuliffe tell the Germans "what you just said ... nuts."
McAuliffe scribbled: "To the German commander: Nuts! The American commander."
On the way back to the defense line, a U.S. officer explained to the puzzled Germans that "nuts" meant the same thing as "go to hell."
In the 1960s, Kinnard, a trained aviator, was a key developer of the Army's helicopter "air assault" concept at Fort Benning, Ga.