Veteran War Memorial Plaza - Madras, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 44° 39.866 W 121° 08.911
10T E 646774 N 4947341
Quick Description: This WWII Veterans War Memorial Plaza and historical marker are located near Madras Airport.
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 8/9/2015 2:48:24 PM
Waymark Code: WMPCKB
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member ddtfamily
Views: 2

Long Description:
Located near the Madras Airport is the Veterans War Memorial Plaza which is comprised of a few benches, a sculpture of a B-17 and a flagpole. There is a historical marker plaque located on one side of the base that supports the B-17 sculpture and it reads:

THE VETERAN WAR MEMORIAL PLAZA IS DEDICATED
TO THE AIR PIONEERS AND U.S ARMY CORP PILOTS,
CREW MEMBERS AND MILITARY PERSONNEL FROM
JEFFERSON COUNTY WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR II.

At one time, the Madras Airport was the "Madras Army Airbase, and local skies were full of B-17 "Flying Fortresses," C-47 Transports, P-39 "Air-Cobra," P-38 "Lightning" Fighter, and small observation and liaison planes

The Madras Airport is home to two main hangars that are still in service - each spacious enough to house a B-17 and have been carefully maintained over the years to preserve their historic nature. They stand as reminders of the Airport's military history from over sixty years ago. On the walls of the old "ready room" in the Airport's South Hangar, where pilots would wait their turns to fly, there are still penciled graffiti to be seen.

In 1943, Major Joseph Arnold, the first Commander of the Madras Army Air Field, announced that the mission on Madras would be to combat training, specifically of aircrews in Boeing B-17-F "Flying Fortress" bombers, in the 318th Squadron of the 88th Bombing Group. Runways, taxiways and "hard stands" were built or refurbished at a feverish pace, likewise hangars, auxiliary buildings and barracks. The City of Madras, population 412 in 1940, was suddenly on the military map, and found its limited resource challenged to the limits by the rapid influx through the first months of 1943 of several hundred officers and pilots, GI's and Army construction workers.

Meanwhile, heavy construction continued on the base. In early 1943, construction began on new runways and taxiways, and highlighting a new 7,400 foot-long runway, reportedly the longest in America at that time.

In February 1944, the Second Air Force was succeeded by the Fourth, as the facility's operator. Like the Second Air Force, the Fourth's mission was aircrew training for combat, but its focus at bases like Madras was on preparing pilots of fighter planes. So although B-17s continued to use the base, in early March of 1944 a squadron of tiny bullet-nosed P-39Q "Air-Cobras" arrived with their pilots and crews, officially the 546th Fighter Squadron of the 475th Fighter Group. Later in 1944, the P-39s were joined at Madras by another Bell plane, the much larger and more conventional P-63 "King Cobra", and the Lockheed P-38 aircraft.

In September 1944, the local newspaper reported that in a shift of missions, the main task of the Madras base would hereafter be maintenance, and this again, caused an influx of new personnel to Madras. After the order went into effect, flight instruction effectively ended, the crowded and noisy skies over Madras cleared, and although old timers can recall that there were still enough airbase soldiers attending the celebration of "VJ Day" at Sahalee Park in downtown Madras (September 2, 1945, the end of the war) to give the event an appropriate GI flavor, the brief intense era of Madras' own military airbase was already over.

In November 1945, the base was declared "surplus to the needs of the Army," and Madras and Jefferson County officials began a vigorous campaign for the transfer of the base to local ownership and control. Congressman (later Senator) Wayne Morse weighed in favor of the transfer, as did now-Colonel Joseph Arnold, the Base's founding CO. On April 3, 1947, the powers in Washington D.C. announced that the airbase was officially transferred to Madras and Jefferson County.

COMMANDERS OF THE MADRAS AIR BASE

MAJOR JOSEPH ARNOLD, JAN. 1943 TO DEC. 1943
LT. COL. KINCAID, DEC. 1943 TO NOV. 1944
MAJOR WARREN LEWIS, NOV. 1944

RESEARCH WAS CONDUCTED BY MADRAS AREA RESIDENTS AND
THE JEFFERSON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

A neat discovery was made when I obtained coordinates for this war memorial. If one looks on Google Maps, one can make out the silhouette of a B-17 that forms the shape of this plaza.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: Historical Society

Marker Type: City

Region: Central Oregon

County: Jefferson

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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