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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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2001 Aviation Events Calendar
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The “Forgotten War” Remembered

2001 Aviation Events CalendarBy Cheryl Henderson

World War II aviators responsible for carrying fuel, troops, and supplies to China from India will soon take their well-earned place in history. On September 9, 2004, those same airmen and the people who honor them will dedicate a one-sixth scale bronze C46 Commando Memorial on the prestigious Honor Court at the United States Air force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“This will be the first transport warbird to be placed in ‘The Study Hall’ outdoor sculpture garden,” states Robert Henderson, the creator and sculptor of all seven bronze replicas permanently housed at the Academy. The C46 Memorial will join a P51 Mustang, P38 Lightning, P47 Thunderbolt, P40 Warhawk, B17 Flying Fortress, B24 Liberator, and a B29 Superfortress on the Honor Court. War heroes such as Bob Morgan (Memphis Belle pilot) and Paul Tibbetts (pilot of the Enola Gay) were among the speakers at former dedications, making history yet again.

The West’s own World War II Memorial represents America’s aviation history and those who took to the skies for their country. “These sculptures are one of the best tools to educate the public about the past. We know that the garden is one of the most visited sites at the Air force Academy as well as required study for the cadets,” says C46 pilot, and project manager Dean Baird.

The C46 was chosen to represent what was considered by many to be the most dangerous flight undertaken during World War II. “Flying the Hump,” meant going over the Santung Range of the Himalayas’ 18,000-20,000 feet peaks. The dangers were as much from the terrain and the weather as from the Japanese, who controlled the skies above Burma and attacked China frequently. Colonel Hardin, Chief of the Hump operations, once issued the dictum: “Effective immediately there will be no more weather over the Hump.” The message clearly meant that they would fly no matter what!

Those who flew the “Over the Hump” mission unknowingly accomplished other missions of perhaps greater importance than tonnage to China. With the “Hump” in mind, our military planners in Washington established the Berlin Airlift, the Airlift to Korea, to Vietnam and, more recently, to Israel.

The bronze C46 on the Commando Memorial has an 18-foot wingspan, and will feature the names of World War II aviators and crewmembers on the plaque below. “Knowing that the memory of these heroes and the machinery they flew will be required study for the cadets assures that their legacies will live for generations,” Henderson explained. No federal or state funds have ever been used to fund these sculptures. The veterans, family members, and enthusiastic Americans are those who sponsor these unique memorials. “The veteran groups, themselves, have taken the responsibility of leaving their gift to their children and grandchildren,” asserts Henderson.

Although well-known as the “Warbird Sculptor,” Henderson (himself a pilot and former air traffic controller) has also sculpted such notables as Walter Cronkite, John Denver, and Mario Andretti, just to name a few. His sculpting career has focused upon the recording of history in permanent media, bronze, and granite. For a complete virtual tour, log on to

The non-profit corporation, Groups Memorial Inc., of the Army Air Forces has been established to collect donations and assure that these heroes will never be forgotten. Commemorative space below the bronze C46 memorial is still available by calling 800-305-1738, or logging on to
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