This photograph of an unidentified airman was taken at the former Malden Army Airfield in Malden, Missouri in March 1945. Construction of the airfield began in 1942 as an installation of the Eastern Flying Training Command and the first class of aviation cadets entered training in April 1943. The base is reputed to have had a military population of 3,000 at one time; however, it was declared excess and deactivated in 1948 after the need for training fields diminished with the war's end.
The airfield was reactivated in 1951 as Malden Air Base with the 3305th Training Squadron assigned to the base the same year. Anderson Air Activities, an Air Force contractor, helped oversee the flight training to prepare aviators to serve in the Korean War. The 3305th was deactivated in 1960 and the base was closed. The former military airfield was turned over to the City of Malden and the property has since transitioned to an industrial park and regional airport.
A B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bomber" is pictured in flight while performing an operational training mission from Whiteman Air Force Base in 1995. Shaped like a boomerang with a serrated rear section, the aircraft is 69 feet long and 17 feet high with a wingspan of 172 feet. In recent years, the B-2 has been used in conventional bombing roles in strikes in the Iraq War and against Libyan forces. From the home of the B-2 fleet at Whiteman AFB, the flight time to Iraq and back is 38 hours and includes 4 to 5 aerial refuelings.
Colonel Ralph Bagby, formerly of New Haven, Missouri, had served as a pilot during World War I and was called into service during the Second World War to help plan the airborne operations for the D-Day invasion.
The 48-year-old colonel's story really grows interesting when he went AWOL from his 9th Air Force Staff duties prior to the invasion and hitched a ride with a group of paratroopers on an Allied glider and made his first parachute jump during the beginning stages of the invasion. The group he was with went on to attack German fortifications and gun positions.
According to the June 11, 1944 edition of the Oakland Tribune, the former Missourian "went along to 'see how things were going,' has been reprimanded and will be decorated." The paper further noted, "As a staff officer he was not supposed to take an active part in the operations."
In the last couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to visit several times with Mrs. Betty Hearnes - the former first lady of Missouri - regarding her late husband's service in the military that occurred years before he became the state's 46th governor.
Warren E. Hearnes was raised in Charleston, Missouri, and, on May 27, 1940, he and a group of boys were able to conceal the fact that they were only 16 years old when enlisting in 140th Infantry Regiment of the Missouri National Guard. The following year, after they were mobilized at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, their true age was discovered and the group of minors was discharged on April 11, 1941, to be sent back to Charleston to finish out their senior year of high school.
After graduating from high school, Hearnes went on to attend the University of Missouri for a year and a half but was then drafted into the U.S. Army on February 24, 1943 and sent to Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. Shortly after his arrival at the fort, he received a telegram notifying him of his appointment to West Point - The U.S. Military Academy.
Hearnes graduated from West Point as an infantry officer in 1946, having undergone an accelerated 3-year training program due to the nation's previous war footing. Upon graduation, Betty Hearnes noted, Lt. Hearnes "went to Ft. Benning for some more training and was then sent to Puerto Rico," where he was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division.
While in Puerto Rico in 1947, he broke his right ankle during a friendly baseball game with fellow soldiers - an injury that would never fully heal, which would lead to his discharge in 1949 and aggravate him for the rest of his life.
The late governor's story of military service is one of many that I plan on sharing in greater detail in the coming weeks. I extend my thanks and appreciation to Betty Hearnes for providing this photograph of Cadet Hearnes in his West Point uniform in addition to the many details of his military service.
The late Donald D. Pittman of Jefferson City was certainly a veteran of great military interest. Born and raised in Jefferson City, Pittman rose to the rank of major general in the United States Air Force and held such important assignments as commander of 14th Air Division at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., commander of 314th Air Division at Osan Air Base, Korea, and commander of the 24th NORAD Region.
As a pilot with more than 11,000 flying hours in 42 types of aircraft, Pitt...man remained actively engaged in military aviation developments following his retirement from active duty on October 1, 1978.
In his collection of photographs and military mementos were many photographs, such as this one released by the Office of Public Information for Lockheed Aeronautical Systems in August 1990 showing the tactical fighter YF-22 prototype under consideration by the U.S. Air Force. The YF-22 design won a contest over Northrop's YF-23 prototype and in later years, after improvements were made to the YF-22 prototype, entered production as the F-22 Raptor.
The American Red Cross grew exponentially during World War I and established a number of services to support the troops serving at home and abroad. As part of the "Home Service," the Red Cross helped provide communication between troops and their families.
The attached postcard was provided by the Red Cross and sent to the father of Thornton Petty--a soldier from Kearney, Mo., who served overseas with the American Expeditionary Forces during the war. The card was sent shortly after Petty arrived back in the United States in June 1919 informing his family that he would soon be sent to a military post (likely Jefferson Barracks) and discharged from the Army. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy P. Ämick)
On September 14, 1953 in a roadside park on Ten Mile Drive west of Jefferson City was the dedication of the area’s first Blue Star Memorial marker. Pictured here is the unveiling of the marker by Mrs. Frank Voss, left, Blue Star chairman of Hawthorn Garden Club and Mrs. Ernest Levy, president of Hawthorn Garden Club. Attendees at the event included Rex Whitton, who was then chief engineer of the Missouri State Highway Commission and Harris Rodgers, chairman of the commission.
During the construction of the Capital Mall in the late 1970s, the marker was moved to make room for expansion of the roads in the area and placed in the roadside park across from Steak ‘n Shake on Missouri Boulevard that was once home to a Spanish-American War statue; however, the marker has since been moved and placed at the entrance to Washington Park.
The late Major General Don D. Pittman--a Jefferson City, Mo., native and 1943 graduate of St. Peter's High School--took these photographs during the retirement ...of the Air Force's fleet of SR-71 Blackbirds at Beale Air Force Base, California, on January 26, 1990.
The Blackbird cadre was formed at Beale AFB in January 1965 with the first aircraft arriving the following year. In May 1973, Maj. Gen. Pittman became commander of the 14th Air Division at Beale AFB and had under his command several reconnaissance, bombardment, airborne command and control and refueling organizations, some of which were equipped with the SR-71.
For nearly 25 years, the SR-71 performed worldwide aerial reconnaissance operations and broke a number of speed and altitude records. Regardless of its performance, a dwindling defense budget combined with the high cost of maintenance eventually heralded the end of this legendary aircraft.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.