April 12, 2017 Edition

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Wings of Honor Museum Board member Frank Wilson (left) spoke at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce quarterly meeting Thursday. He emphasized the importance of passing history on to future generations as the 75th anniversary of the WWII Walnut Ridge Army Air Field approaches.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Air field reunion, air show
discussed at Chamber quarterly

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce held its quarterly meeting Thursday at the Wings of Honor Museum in Walnut Ridge.

Museum Board President Harold Johnson and board member Frank Wilson presented about the history of the WWII Walnut Ridge Army Air Field as it approaches its 75th anniversary.

Johnson said times were tough when the air field began construction on June 20, 1942. The economy of Northeast Arkansas felt the impact of the air field.

The flat land surrounding Walnut Ridge proved suitable for building the runways needed to train pilots to be deployed. Of the 5,310 pilots enrolled, 4,461 graduated.

"Our pilots had a large impact on the war," Johnson said. "We're proud of our air field."

After the war, much of the air field was donated for the future use as the Williams Baptist College campus and Walnut Ridge Regional Airport.

Following Johnson, Wilson spoke about the importance of keeping history alive and said that is one of the reasons the Wings of Honor Museum exists.

However, often now when he asks the question "What happened Dec. 7, 1941," younger generations don't know the answer.

He encouraged attending the annual air field reunion May 5 and 6 and bringing younger ones to meet and interact with the veterans.

In celebration of the 75th anniversary, the museum has planned an air show on May 6. The Chamber has provided some support in planning and promoting the event.

Chamber Chair Gretchen Hunt closed the meeting echoing Wilson's sentiments. "History is so important, we have to pass it on to future generations."

Sponsorships are still being taken for the air show. Contact Johnson at 800-584-5575 or harold@bscn.com.

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