Welcome to the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum Columbus, Indiana

 

Louis Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tuskegee Airmen 

                                                             

In memory of our friend Louis G. Hill Jr. Tuskegee Airman June 28, 1916-April 25, 2007

Louis G. Hill Jr., Class 44-B, served at the former Atterbury Army Air Field as a B-25 Bomber Pilot during WWII. The Tuskegee Airmen gallery displays their history and Louis' B-25 Bomber in 1/8 scale is suspended above that display. Pictured here is Louis in his flight suit during WWII and again at the museum for the dedication of his B-25 Bomber display. Louis along with fellow Tuskegee Airman, Walter Palmer, Class 43-F, were long time friends and supporters of the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum.  We are honored to have known you Louis. The Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame display at the museum honors the Tuskegee Airman

Tuskegee Airman Walter Palmer passed away March 28, 2009. Walter was a member of the famed 99th Fighter Group and flew 158 combat missions over Italy and Germany during WWII. Walter pictured next to his P-51 Fighter "Duchess" and with Columbus, Indiana Mayor Fred Armstrong and Major General Retired John Hoff at a function at the Columbus Airport hosted by the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum. Walter and fellow Tuskegee Airman Louis Hill were great friends of the museum volunteers and participated in many of the museum events.

 

Tuskegee Airmen Historical Monument on Bakalar Green at the former Atterbury Army Air Field Columbus, Indiana dedicated August 16, 1997 with many Tuskegee Airman and family in attendance

Tuskegee Airmen Walter Palmer and Louis Hill at the museum.

The museum needs your help to locate photographs, artifacts and personal histories of the Tuskegee Airmen who served at the former Atterbury Army Air Field during WWII.

Click on photographs for full size

618 & 619 Bomb Squadron Patches

Tuskegee Airman of the 618th and 619th Bomb Squadrons (M) of the 477th Bomb Group (M) in training at Atterbury Army Air Field in Columbus Indiana during World War II. They flew the B-25 Mitchell Bomber like the ones in the photographs. Louis Hill and his crew pictured on the right.

B-25 SPECIFICATIONS

Span: 67 ft. 7 in.
Length: 52 ft. 11 in.
Height: 15 ft. 9 in.
Weight: 28,460 lbs. loaded
Armament: Five .50-cal. machine guns; 5,000 lbs. of bombs
Engine: Two Wright R-2600's of 1,700 hp. ea.
Cost: $96,000

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed: 275 mph.
Cruising speed: 230 mph.
Range: 1,200 miles
Service Ceiling: 25,000 ft

Tuskegee Airmen at the Atterbury Army Air Field

Daily life at Atterbury Army Air Field for the Tuskegee Airmen in 1944. There is a monument dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen located on Bakalar Green between the Control Tower and Rotating beacon a short walk from the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum front door.

 

Pictured here are some of the Tuskegee Airman who served at Atterbury Army Air Field. Arthur Saunders on the left, Maurice Pompey featured in the center and Thomas Austin, Sr. on the right. Museum research indicates these Tuskegee Airmen at one time served at the former air base in Columbus, IN.

1st Lt.  Arthur Saunders earned his pilot's license in 1941. He received his commission at Yale University in Armament, Bombsight and Engineering and trained at Tuskegee, AL. He was one of the first officers to serve in the 477th. 1st Lt. Maurice Pompey was born in South Bend, IN. He was a student at Howard University when WWII began. He was assigned to the 618th Squadron of the 477th based at Atterbury Army Air Field in Columbus ,Indiana for combat training. Staff Sergeant Thomas Austin, Sr. was an Aircraft Mechanic and Trained at Tuskegee, AL. He had assignments at a number of Army air fields including Atterbury Army Air Field where B-25's needed his mechanic skills. He had experience on nine aircraft types.

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This photograph is of Colonel Robert R. Selway reviewing the 618th Bomber Squadron at the Atterbury Army Air Field on June 24, 1944. The Tuskegee Airman that Col. Selway is facing is Hubert L. Jones, Class P43H. At Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana, Colonel Selway segregated the Tuskegee Airman and white Officers Clubs. The Tuskegee Airman were not allowed to enter the white Officers Club under Col. Selway's orders. Suggested reading: The Freeman Field Mutiny by Lt. Col. James C. Warren USAF (Ret.) and  "The Tuskegee Experiment and Tuskegee Airmen 1939-1949" by LeRoy Gillead.

Tuskegee Airman of the 477th Bombardment Group being loaded on buses at Freeman Field Seymour, Indiana for transport to Godman Field, Kentucky in April 1945. This was in retaliation for their efforts to enter the segregated Officers Club at Freeman Field. 101 officers refused to sign a copy of the regulation keeping them out of the club. All 101 were arrested. The complete history of this historic event is in the book "The Freeman Field Mutiny" written by Lt. Colonel (Ret.) James C. Warren.

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This official photograph is from the museum archives and appears to show a B-25 being sprayed with foam by the base fire department. This is one of many base fire department photographs and may be the photo of the Tuskegee Airmen B-25 which crashed during training. According to a 1944 newspaper article "B-25 slides 1,500 feet in field attempting landing." This photo may be of that aircraft but the museum staff is unable to document this.

Photographs of Tuskegee Airmen, Louis Hill, Class 44-B and Walter Palmer, Class 43Fgreat friends of the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum. Joined by Major General (Ret.) John Hoff, former Bakalar Air Force Base Commander and WWII B-17 Command Pilot in the photo in front of the Museum sign and Louis and Walter getting a warm welcome from Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong a decorated Vietnam Veteran. Louis and Walter are part of our Museum Family and attend many of the Museum events.

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Major General (Ret.) John Hoff, Walter Palmer and Lewis Hill at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum dedication November 11, 1992.

 

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W.W. II Photographs of Walter J. A. Palmer 1st Lt. (U.S.A.F. Ret.) The photo on the left is of Walter at Tuskegee Institute as an aviation cadet and the center photo of him after he shot down an ME-109 on July 18, 1944. Photo on the right is Walter in a dress uniform. Walter flew P-39's, P-40's, P-47's and P-51's with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group. Walter did not fly out of Atterbury Army Air Base but was a good friend of the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum and an important part of the Tuskegee Airmen history. Walter flew 158 combat missions with over 400 combat hours flying time. Walter J.A. Palmer as pictured in an Indianapolis Star feature story about the Tuskegee Airman. Walter served with the Tuskegee Airman from September 1942 to July 1945

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Walter Palmer's 1/8th scale P-51 "Duchess" on display at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum along with Louis Hill's 1/8th scale B-25 as seen in the photographs at the top of this page.

 

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Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Charles W. "A-Train" Dryden and his wife, Marymal at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum historical markers dedication program July 12, 2003. Lt. Colonel Dryden also took time to host a book signing of his book. "A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman." Lt. Colonel Dryden has been inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame and was on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Chapter-Tuskegee Airman, Inc. He resided with his wife Marymal in Atlanta, Georgia. Lt Colonel Dryden is the cousin of longtime Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum friend and fellow Tuskegee Airman, Walter Palmer. Walter holds the record for the most combat missions flown by a Tuskegee Airman during WWII. A whopping 158 combat missions. Charles passed away June 24, 2008 at age 87.

Charles W. "A Train" Dryden pictured here in a P-40 Warhawk with Benjamin O. Davis on the wing before a mission in this 1943 AP photo. Charles' 21 year military career also included combat missions in Korea and assignments in Japan, Germany and US bases. He retired from the Air Force in 1962.

A special section of the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum is dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen.

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January 16, 2012