WWII Heritage Days to Honor the Women of The Greatest Generation

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WASPs renactors in front of Tom Reilly’s B-25 ‘Killer B’ ( image credit Pam Wood Ellis)

The sights and sounds of The Greatest Generation will come alive when the Commemorative Air Force’s Dixie Wing hosts its eleventh annual “WWII Heritage Days” event over the weekend of April 26th/27th.  The history festival will take place at The Historical Airpower Facility, Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field, Peachtree City, GA from 9am-4pm both days. Go beyond the jump to find out more…

The weekend will again feature historic aircraft, antique cars, vintage military vehicles, guest speakers, educational displays, demonstrations by reenactors portraying Allied and Axis troops, and activities for school age kids. Highlights will include an opening ceremony recognizing local WWII veterans and a 1940’s hangar dance. The theme of the 2014 opening ceremony, Honoring The Women of The Greatest Generation, will pay tribute to women who served in the military as well as the Home Front. Activities will begin at 9:30am with a patriotic music program performed by Bombshells United.

Maj Gen George Harrison, USAF, Ret. will serve as master of ceremonies.

Four WASPs in front of their B-17 Flying Fortress
Four WASPs in front of their B-17 Flying Fortress

When the United States entered WWII in 1941, only 12 million women were working outside the home. When the war ended four years later, the number was up to 18 million (one third of the workforce), including 3 million women who worked in war plants. Nearly 400,000 women served in or with the armed forces during World War II, including 74,000 who served in the American Army and Navy Nurse Corps. More than 1,000 women became pilots associated with the US Army Air Force as WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots), but were only considered civil service workers. Shockingly, they weren’t recognized for their military service until the 1970s.  

One of the many thousand "Rosie the Riveters" at work  in a WWII aircraft factory.
One of the many thousand “Rosie the Riveters” at work in a WWII aircraft factory. The wing is from a Vultee Vengeance diver bomber. (photo by Alfred T. Palmer)

Saturday evening will bring back the Big Band sound at “Keep ‘em Flying”, a 1940s theme hangar dance fund-raiser featuring The Peachtree Jazz Edition.  Proceeds from the dance offset the cost of WWII Heritage Days, aircraft preservation and “Education Through Living History”, the group’s WWII history program made available to schools and youth groups free of charge. “WWII Heritage Days is a living history classroom,” said Jim Buckley, CAF Dixie Wing leader. “Over 200 volunteers from twenty-five organizations join us in creating the weekend.”  The event draws World War II history enthusiasts to Peachtree City from throughout the southeast.

Participating organizations include the American Rosie the Riveters Association, Atlanta History Center, Five-oh-First, Kellys’s Zeroes, Kennesaw State University’s Museum of History & Holocaust Education, Marine Corps League, Museum of Aviation, Naval Sea Cadets, 1st Infantry Division (reenacted), 134th IR134 “Hoch und Deutschmeister” and the U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum. Local civic organizations and schools are also invited to create and display 1940’s exhibits. Why turn a flying museum into a classroom?  “Our goal is to preserve and teach the story of The Greatest Generation, the men and women who won the Second World War,” explained Buckley.

The Commemorative Air Force is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft.  Based in Midland, Texas, the organization has over 9,500 members and operates a fleet of over 150 World War II aircraft.  www.commemorativeairforce.org

Visit WWIIDAYS.ORG for more info.

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5 Comments

  1. My father was Charles L. Cleaver. He formed and directed the Flying Yanks Dance Band during WWII – stationed in England with the 8th Air Force, later the 379th Army Air Force Band. Formed in the Fall of 1942 by my father, the band entertained the troops throughout England and France — did a command performance for Queen Mary of England, concerts and War Bond Rallies, performed shows (Skirts) and played in Paris shortly after the D-Day invasion ( I have photo). If you are interested in information on this famous band, please let me know. Wish we had been aware of your annual Heritage Days. Would love to be there, and to have had a display on the Flying Yanks!!! I have recently been in touch with three other children of members of this band. We are gathering information and would love to share it with the world.

    • Hello, I have been posting the 88th Troop Carrier Squadron June 1944 report on the WWII Glider Pilots website. I have been posting in snippets and just put up the last snippet and it is mentioned in there that the 88th TCS when on leave the men went to see the play “Skirts” by the 8th Air Force. In searching for information about this play I came across this post. Would you happen to have a photo depicting this play or a photo copy of the flyer? I would like to be able to make the connection to the play. I now know that it was the 379th that played for the show Skirts. Thanks for that information. If you have more would love to know about it.

      Kind Regards, Patricia

  2. Hi, I’m the daughter of Joe Larsson, trumpet player in the Flying Yanks. I would love to share some photos. My father got the band together for a reunion in Las Vegas and then again in Florida. I have also had some contact with Clay Wheeler’s daughter. He was the piano player. I wish there was more info about these guys. Their story would make a great movie! Gail

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