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The World War II Years at the Atterbury Army Air Field

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Photos from left to right: The first airmen to arrive at Atterbury Army Air Field to set up mess halls, transportation, supplies and similar duties. Photo taken December 28, 1942 of Sgt Luther McGee, Sgt. Robert Callis, Corporal Frank ?, Corporal Harold McWilliams, Corporal F. Monnissiti, Sgt. Hyman Kertzman, Corporal Harold McGinn. A January 1943 photo of Luther McGee and Sgt. Hyman Kertzman cleaning out a warehouse for incoming supplies. The 903rd Quartermaster and Military Police in this January 14, 1943 photo. Luther McGee and Cpl. F. Monnissiti on a motorcycle January 15, 1944.


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This photograph of a C-47 on approach to the runway at Atterbury Army Air Base was taken by the Base Photo Section, Bowman Field, Kentucky on 10 July 1944. This WWII post cards from Atterbury Air Field features a B18-A Douglas bomber. B-18's were not stationed at the former air field and a flight of single engine planes also not stationed at the former air field.


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Here are a couple of WWII era photographs from the Atterbury Army Air Field. We have no identification of the people pictured on the left. Note the American Red Cross uniform on the gentleman in the first photo. The second photo is of Army Corps of Engineers 1st Lieutenant Austin Griffith of Frankfort, KY from the original construction staff. Thanks to Libby Taylor, daughter of 1LT Austin Griffith for helping identify her father. Stamped on the back of both photos was Ellington Photos Columbus, Indiana.


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Atterbury Army Air Field December 1943 photo left to right Cpl. F. Monnissiti, Boston Massachusetts, Sgt. Luther McGee, Spruce Pine, North Carolina and Robert Callis, Sparta, WI in center of photo. Another 1943 photo of Atterbury Army Air Field soldiers, left to right, Sgt. Luther Mc Gee, Spruce Pine, NC, Sgt. Robert Hammond, Springfield, IL, Cpl. Robert Fultz, Dutch Mill, AR and Pvt. F. Grangie, Brooklyn, NY. Hammond was stationed at Pearl Harbor and wounded December, 7, 1941 and was discharged December 1944.

Dog tags returned after 48 years to bomber pilot's widow.


This dog tag lay at a W.W.II bomber crash site for almost 50 years before recovered and returned to Betty Steinkamp (Betty Penisten) of Columbus, Indiana, the widow of Second Lt. Wilber Steinkamp. Wilber was from Columbus, Indiana and was flying with his B-24 crew when it crashed in Colorado on September 14, 1944. All the crew perished in the crash. The dog tag was returned in 1992. The dog tag along with other parts of the bomber were recovered by members of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. The B-24 and crew were stationed at Pueblo Army Air Base and crashed about five miles northeast of Peterson Field. The plane was on a routine combat training mission.

Wilber and Betty were married August 1, 1944 in San Antonio, Texas. The bodies and remains of the plane were quickly recovered, and the crash site was cleaned of the larger pieces of the wreckage. Wilber Steinkamp's body was brought back to Columbus, Indiana by his widow and he was buried at Garland Brook Cemetery.


Span: 71 ft. 0 in.
Length: 58 ft. 6 in.
Height: 20 ft. 3 in.
Weight: 37,000 lbs. loaded
Armament: Eleven .50-cal. machine guns; 4,000 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800's of 2,000 hp. ea.
Cost: $227,000

Maximum speed: 285 mph.
Cruising speed: 190 mph.
Range: 1,100 miles
Service Ceiling: 19,800 ft

B-26 Bombers were at the Atterbury Army Air Field during 1943 and 1944. September of 1943 the first B-26's arrived at the field. 

From the October 8, 1943 Evening Republican Newspaper. B-26 falls and burns near Nortonsburg. All six crew members miraculously escaped death Thursday afternoon when their B-26 bomber from Atterbury Army Air field made a crash landing four miles east of the field, plowed along the ground in flames for about 250 feet, spun around in a roadside ditch and was destroyed by fire.

Capt. Ward H. Porter, Intelligence officer with the bomber group at the local field said none of the men was seriously hurt and that the plane was on a routine mission.

B-26 Marauder Bombers Arrive at Local Field

Bombardment Group Units to Train Here Temporarily-Skies Are "Hot"

Units of a medium bombardment group have moved into Atterbury Army Air field, their B-26 Marauder bombers and air crews arriving at the field Thursday afternoon after a flight from their home base.

The units are expected to remain here temporarily while engaging in routine training, the base public relations officer stated.

The B-26 Marauders are the first combat planes to be based here in several weeks and are similar to the planes which arrived here with units of another medium bombardment group last September.

Bigger than Freeman Planes.

The B-26 is a twin-engine, medium bomber now in action on almost all of the war fronts. These based at the local field are olive drab and also may be distinguished from the AT-10 training planes from Freeman field, Seymour, by their long glass-encased nose. The B-26 is almost three times the size of the silver twin-engine training planes used by the Freeman cadets.


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AT-10 Photographs from Freeman Army Air Field Seymour, Indiana 1943

Span: 44 ft. 0 in.
Length: 34 ft. 4 in.
Height: 10 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 6,465 lbs.
Armament: None
Engine: Two Lycoming R-680-9 radials of 295 hp. each

Maximum speed: Approximately 190 mph/165 knots
Range: Approximately 660 statute miles/572 nautical miles
Service Ceiling: Approximately 20,000 ft.

Commander of the group is Col. Richard T. Coiner, Jr. who is expected to be here only part of the time. Executive officer for units at the local field is Maj. Franklyn E. Ebeling. Other commanders are Maj. Robert M. McLeod and Maj. Kenneth C. Dempster.

A constant stream of the AT-10 training planes from Freeman field roared over the city as the cadets landed and took off again from the Walesboro auxiliary flying field.

Also in the air were the B-26's from Atterbury Army Air field as the boys put their larger mounts through night paces.


Former WWII B-26 pilot, George Parker, Founder and Past President of the B-26 Marauder Historical Society, said the 397th Bombardment Group (Medium) is the unit written about in the Evening Republican Newspaper, now The Republic. This unit was at the Atterbury Army Air Field during WWII.

According to George Parker, this was a training exercise for this Squadron the 596th. The aircraft for his mission was a Martin B-26C. His flight log had these entries:

January 6, 1944-Martin B-26C Sqdn (596th) to Atterbury with regular Crew. This flight was from Hunter Field (Savannah, GA)-Atlanta-Nashville-Columbus, Ind. 4:10  hrs

January 7, 1944-Crew #2 local flight Martin B-26C 2 hrs.

January 8, 1944-Atterbury to Vichy, MO 2 hrs.

January 9, 1944-Vichy-Columbia MO-Atterbury 2 hrs

January 10, 1944-Mission #106, Crew #2 Atterbury-Nashville, Tenn.-Atterbury 3:35hrs

January 11, 1944-Atterbury Fld-Woodbury, Tenn.-Atterbury 3:35 hrs

January 12, 1944 Lt. R. Jones and crew #2 Atterbury-Tallahoma, Tenn.-Atterbury 4:10 hrs


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Back row-George W. Parker, pilot; Floyd Hurstle Shoemaker, co-pilot; John B. Cartmill, bombardier; Danny Peebles; Robert N. Mink, engineer: First row-Michael Joseph Garvie, crew chief; Don W. Billings, radio; John T. Brewer, armorer; Charles E. Franzwick, assistant crew chief. This is B-26B-55 Missouri Mule II

George W. Parker has been very helpful in furnishing information to the museum about the B-26 aircraft and crews who were at Atterbury Army Air Field. According to his records, they flew B-26C models to Atterbury and picked up new B-26B-55's at Hunter Field which their group flew to England.

Pictured in the photographs below are three of the officers mentioned in the newspaper story. These three are deceased. 

Photographs credit: Marauder Historical Society.

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Colonel Richard T. Coiner, 397th Bombardment Group


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Major K. C. Dempster, 397th Bombardment Group


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Major Robert McLeod, 397th Bombardment Group

Richard F. Weltzin, USAF (Ret.) former 397th Bombardment Group member  remembers being at Atterbury Army Air Field for a short time. "The weather was bad. We were not used to flying in snow, light freezing rain, etc. I do remember going back to McDill. I was aircraft commander and flew in and out of light snow, low clouds and we had bad carburetor heaters so I lost an engine, got it going and lost the other and made an emergency landing half way home. Made it OK the next day."


Aircraft Task Force visit Atterbury Air Field during WW II

During July 1944 an aerial task force composed of Army Pursuit planes, attack bombers and medium bombers arrived at Atterbury Army Airfield for a few days.  (This information is from the July 22, 1944 Evening Republican Newspaper)

A number of pursuit planes and four bombers were seen at one time over Columbus this morning, flying in formation. 

The announcement made at the field identified the planes as P-39 and P-40 pursuit ships, A-36 and A-20, scout and attack-bombers and B-25 Billy Mitchell medium bombers.

The planes are here from a Third Army Air force field and will be at the local base for only a short time while on a maneuver in this area.

P-39     P-40     P-36

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A-20     B-25     C-47

The pursuit and bombers are the first temporarily based at the local field for some time. The field here is now under the Air Transport command and is being used in training pilots of the First Troop Carrier command. These pilots fly the big C-47 troop and transport planes.

(Some of the aircraft photographs on this web site are from the United States Air force Museum at Wright Patterson Air force Base, Ohio)

WWII Victory Ribbon

Thanks to the "Greatest Generation"

The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum has authorization to use the aircraft photographs from the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Museum web site.

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Send your questions or comments about this web site or the museum to: lakegc@aol.com  Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum 4742 Ray Boll Boulevard Columbus, Indiana 47203
Copyright 2000-2012 Last modified:
January 16, 2012