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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Madras in Jefferson County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

Veteran War Memorial Plaza

 
 
Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
1. Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker
Inscription.
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
Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
2. Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker
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
Veteran War Memorial Plaza B-15 sculpture image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
3. Veteran War Memorial Plaza B-15 sculpture
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

 
Erected by Jefferson County Historical Society.
 
Location. 44° 39.866′ N, 121° 8.911′ W. Marker is in Madras, Oregon, in Jefferson County. Marker is on Northwest Cherry Lane
Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
4. Veteran War Memorial Plaza Marker
. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Madras OR 97741, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Old Jefferson County Jail (approx. 2.3 miles away); Jefferson County War Memorial (approx. 2.4 miles away); Metolius Depot (approx. 5 miles away).
 
More about this marker. 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.
 
Categories. Air & SpaceWar, World II
 
Veteran War Memorial Plaza image. Click for full size.
By Douglass Halvorsen, June 21, 2015
5. Veteran War Memorial Plaza
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 19, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 17, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 54 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 17, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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