By Jim Misunas
LARNED — A notebook of information about the B-29 Memorial in Great Bend compiled by Mildon Yeager will soon be featured at the Barton County Historical Museum.
U.S. crews were trained to fly the B-26 and B-29 bombers at the Great Bend Army Air Field during World War II. The airfield is the site of a memorial dedicated to the men and women who manufactured, flew and provided support for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Designed by veterans Richard Bergen and Gene Hinde, the intersecting arches rising from the ground represent the emblem of the Global 20th Air Force.
Intersecting arches represent the emblem of the Global 20th Air Force with a centerpiece of a B-29 cast in stainless steel. Bomber crews, groups and individuals are honored with bronze plaques and bricks. The intent of the memorial is to remind tomorrow’s generations of the sacrifices made to keep the U.S. secure.
The Barton County Historical Society maintains a collection of memorabilia, memoirs and artifacts telling the story of this defining era in Kansas and United States history.
“We’ll put Mildon’s work on display and showcase it at the right time,” said Beverly Komarek, historical society director. “Mildon has done a great job of compiling information and putting files together.”
Yeager served with the Navy Seebees overseas and appreciated how the work of the B-29 training base helped end the war.
“I’m convinced that the B-29 was one that saved my life and saved other lives.”
Yeager has collected articles that trace the progress of the B-29 Memorial from the time it was first discussed, into fund-raising and the construction phase. The 84-year-old Yeager and Dr. William Brenner, a Bataan Death March survivor, were instrumental in raising donations from Pawnee County for the memorial.
Linda McCaffery, a Barton Community College history instructor, wrote the book, “I’m Praying Hard for You,” Love Letters to a Death Camp: The World War II Ordeal of William and Jo Brenner about his experiences. The book profiles the World War II ordeal of Dr. William Brenner and his wife, Jo.
Anyone who wants to share an article they have saved or has a story relating to the B-29 Memorial, can call Yeager at (620) 285-3032. Yeager resides at 416 Wichita Street in Larned.