Thursday, June 30, 2011

Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum - Columbus, Indiana

Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum - Columbus, Indiana
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum - Columbus, Indiana

Markers & Museums
South Central Edition
Marker Placed by Indiana Historical Bureau
Title of Marker:
Atterbury Army Air Field
Location:
In front of chapel at Middle Road and Grissom Avenue, Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus (Bartholomew County, Indiana)
Installed by:
2007 Indiana Historical Bureau and Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum
Marker ID #:
03.2007.2
Marker Text:
Side one:
Construction begun summer 1942 under Captain Stratton O. Hammon, who used broad authority over laborers, suppliers, and railroad; base in use February 1943. More than 1, 000 workers employed during construction. Base was over 2, 000 acres, cost over four million dollars, and included more than one hundred buildings, intended to be temporary.
Side two:
WW II uses included training B-25, B-26, and glider pilots; by 1944, wounded from Europe received here for Wakeman Hospital. Wounded soldiers during Korean War received here. Renamed 1954 to honor Lt. John Bakalar. Base closed 1970. Original building made into chapel; restored and named for Women's Air Service Pilot Jean Lewellen Norbeck 1990s.
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum - Columbus, Indiana
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum - Columbus, Indiana

Brief History
The task of organizing the mammoth task of constructing the airfields needed to train 70,000 pilots annually fell to General of the Army and General of the Air Force Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold. He moved the responsibility of building air bases from the overburdened Quartermaster Corps to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineer. The Army had no plan for any of the bases, only a set of guidelines that followed General Arnold's concept of "Spartan" simplicity for the bases. There would be no frills or creature comforts at these bases. The buildings would be simple lumber and tar paper construction. These buildings were quite cold in winter and hot in summer. The hangers were of wood or concrete. The guidelines called for one secure hanger to hide the Norden bombsight, which was top-secret. Atterbury's construction followed these guidelines during its construction. The United States, in the face of major war, needed a lot of air bases and it needed them fast. The site that Atterbury would occupy had been open cornfields. This land needed to be turned into a United States Army Air Field as quickly as possible.
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum Military Memorabilia
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum Military Memorabilia

The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum
The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum preserves the memory and history of this airfield. Located on site, the museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia, history and exhibits covering the Atterbury Army Air Field and Bakalar Air Base.

Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum Military Memorabilia
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum Military Memorabilia

The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum is located near the control tower across the street from the F4C Phantom Jet Fighter static display at the Columbus Indiana Municipal Airport. This is the former location of the Atterbury Army Air Field and Bakalar Air Force Base. The museum is just a few steps from the ramp and control tower.
This small, but intense museum contains a plethora of models, artifacts and photos relating to the history of Bakalar Air Base and the Atterbury army camp. My wife and I spent a couple of hours just browsing the exhibits and models. It is well worth the few hours time that it takes you to browse the museum. For more information, contact:
Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum
4742 Ray Boll Boulevard
Columbus, Indiana 47203
(812) 372-4356

© Paul Wonning 2016

1 comment: