Photo by Ed Williams
Photo by Ed Williams
5/7/2002 Artist to paint war
By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun
Artist Whit Fink, left, and J.
Waterman study a scale drawing of the mural which will appear on the side
of Rob's Battery and Electric in honor of 301st Army Air Force Flying
Training Detachment which operated out of the Corsicana Municipal Airport
from 1940 to 1944.Courtesy photo
The sound was deafening and the sky was dotted
with PT-19s as Army Air Force cadets rushed to learn combat skills.
Now, more than half a century has passed since
the colorful blue and yellow planes buzzed above Corsicana Municipal
Airport, and the memories of those young pilots who flew them are a part
Soon, artist Whit Fink will transform a faded
wall at Rob's Battery and Electric into a permanent record of the military
training conducted here from 1940 to 1944.
The mural will join the street scene at the
library and a tiger on Seventh Avenue, thanks to a cooperative effort
between the Corsicana/Navarro County Chamber of Commerce and the city.
"The mural committee has always had this in
mind -- of doing one for the airfield," said J. Waterman, Precinct 1
city councilman. "It's a commemorative-type mural for our pilots who
trained here in the PT program during World War II."
Fink had already scouted Dean Montgomery's brick
wall as a promising mural site. After discovering the owner's passion for
aviation, he began doing preliminary sketches for a 30-foot by 60-foot
"Technically, this has been in the works for
three to four years," he said.
Waterman got the idea for using murals to enhance
tourism at an international convention several years ago, then reinforced
the commitment by studying the positive impact of 33 murals in an Ohio
town decimated by the closing of three steel mills.
"Their chamber and the citizens went
together and made the murals as a tourist attraction to bring people in,
and this is what we had in mind," he said. "Corsicana doesn't
need the tourism as much as some of the others did, but we're going with
the murals anyway which will enhance any tourism we have."
When he contacted Fink, he was surprised to find
the design completed. Then, with pledges for about 75 percent of the
funding secured, the project moved into high gear.
Fink spent time gathering an historic perspective
from men who had lived the combat training experience, and decisions were
made about a plaque that will be mounted below the mural.
Similar to historical markers, but sporting a
blue background, the embossed plaque will read: "Air Activities of
Texas Corsicana Army Airfield Corsicana, Texas 1940-1944. 301st Army Air
Force Flying Training Detachment Primary Flight Training produced numerous
combat flying aces WW II."
The plaque will go on to list civilian operators
and financiers, and nearby, a likeness of the training detachment's sleeve
patch will appear.
Wendy Huffman, promotional advertising
facilitator for the Main Street Project, praised the idea as an appealing
addition to Corsicana's downtown area.
"It will be a beautiful addition to the many
attractions that make Corsicana a tourist destination, while also serving
as a beautification effort for the downtown historical district," she
The work will get underway as soon as weather
conditions settle down and take about four weeks to complete.
Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 27, 2002
The mural being painted downtown
by local artist Whit Fink is
coming along on the wall of Rob's Battery and Electric. The mural will
training done in Corsicana during World War II. Daily
Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA
mural to be dedicated Friday
By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff
The city's newest mural, immortalizing the
military training held at Corsicana Municipal Airport from 1940 to 1944,
will be dedicated during a ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday.
Artist Whit Fink selected a faded brick wall at
Rob's Battery and Electric, 211 W. Collin St., as an ideal location to
display the activity of Army Air Force cadets preparing for combat duty in
PT-19s, the training planes of the day.
"We plan to have the color guard present the
colors, we'll have somebody lead us in the 'Star Spangled Banner,' and
immediately following that, we'll have the fly over of one, two or three
PT-19s," said J. Waterman, the Precinct 1 city councilman and member
of the mural committee.
Mayor April Sikes, local officials, some of the
pilots who still live in the area and members of the mural committee will
be on hand along with the artist.
About 8,000 would-be pilots entered the training
program with 5,000 completing the requirements and going on to fly P-40s,
P-38s and bombers during World War II.
"I think this is an excellent way to
emphasize what we had," Waterman said. "Now, we have a mural and
people can say, 'There are the planes they trained in out here at the Army
Air Force base.' "
He said the committee has received many positive
comments about the new mural, and the timing made it possible to present a
preliminary sketch during a May 11 celebration at the air field.
Fink has been working on the mural for about two
months, with several inclement weather breaks, and the final touch -- a
commemorative plaque -- will be mounted before the dedication ceremony.
"Then, the emblem they had on their sleeves,
Whit has one he's done in a 28-inch circle that will go right under the
plaque or above it," Waterman said. "Whenever they trained here
and were fully qualified, they maintained that patch with their other
patches as they went on with their other flying."
A subtle touch that some viewers may either miss
or misunderstand is the biplane in the lower left corner of the painting,
but it represents a bit of history connected with the training experience.
"They had trouble with the wing struts, and
they had one that broke," Waterman said of the PT-19s. "They put
them all out of commission for a while to inspect them, and that's when
they brought in about six or eight of the Stearman biplanes, so there was
about 2 1/2 weeks when they did use the Stearmans for training."
He expressed appreciation to Sharla Nelson,
director of Parks and Recreation, for making arrangements to set up chairs
and provide a public address system for the dedication.
The public is invited to attend, and refreshments
will be served after the ceremony.
Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at
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