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7:07 AM Tue, Oct. 16th

Airfield museum honors defense of country<BR>

As the country struggles to understand the horror of the historical attack on the American mainland this week, a group of World War II veterans continue to collect history of Kingman's contribution following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

"This is more than a Kingman Army Airfield Museum," said Norm Berg.

"It is our goal to document the history of Mohave County contributions in World War II."

The Kingman Army Airfield Historical Society and Museum is an outgrowth of the reunions held from 1991-96.

Servicemen and women and families who operated the gunnery school here and who were trained at the base, were invited to return to Kingman.

"We are getting renewed interest from the children of those who served here," Berg said.

"A recent visitor said his father talked a lot about training in Mohave County in preparation for 25 air missions in Europe."

The base trained gunners for B-17 and B-24 bombers.

At the end of the war, one B-29 had come to Kingman.

The museum has a gun turret from one of the aircraft.

Following the end of hostilities, 7,000 aircraft were brought to Kingman for dismantling.

Kingman resident and museum volunteer Bob Zehr donated part of a Nazi flag to the museum.

"I cut off two thirds of it," he said.

"This is the middle section.

That was all I could get in my pack.

All of it was too bulky and too heavy."

Zehr is a survivor of the D-Day invasion landing on Omaha Beach in France.

He took the flag off the wall of a German pillbox and carried it home before donating it to the museum.

Some of the gunners trained in Kingman were in the bombers flying over Zehr's head during the invasion and bombing German targets prior to the invasion.

Training of gunners began with a shotgun in a location on the ranch west of Route 66.

There, the soldiers learned to lead the clay pigeons like they would do with aircraft in battle.

One of the original shotguns is on display at the museum.

A ground-strafing target was recovered from the Yucca area and is in storage awaiting development of more space in the museum.

"The frame was found on BLM property and given to us," Berg said.

"We were told to call it something other than a strafing target so the Air Museum in Dayton, Ohio would not take it away from us."

The museum and society offices are in an original hanger at the Kingman Airport leased from the Airport Authority.

One goal of the group is renovating the site so the museum and exhibits will be "on location."

Recognition of other Mohave County sites at Yucca where gunners did long distance flights, a Ford manufacturing facility near Yucca that Berg said made jeeps and the Site 6 Airfield at Lake Havasu City are part of the agenda.

The group is accepting items for the museum and documents of the era.

Kingman resident Tom Gossi was living with his family in Hawaii in 1941 and donated an original Hawaii newspaper from Dec.

7, 1941.

Dave French gave the museum a piece of rail that was removed from a wye at the airport.

It was manufactured in 1899 and removed in 1999.

It was part of the rail used during WW II at the Kingman airport.

The museum has the piano from the base club, many flight patches, documents, a German parachute, many photos and other items of the era.

More will be added to displays as space is renovated.

Static aircraft displays are planned as the program develops.

A WWI replica and a Lance Air BB have been donated.

A Vietnam era jet engine is ready for display.

The nonprofit group invites both donations and volunteers.

They also store airplanes for interested local pilots to pay the rent on the hangar.

Call 757-7422.