Local WWII Veterans Featured, Impact of Central Valley Airbases Explored on KVIE

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Travis warriors wings
Travis warriors wings

Sacramento, CA, September 27, 2007: World War II forced Americans to endure more than they ever thought possible, not just on the battlefields overseas, but here at home.

KVIE Public Television and Warriors With Wings production funders Travis Credit Union and Independent Benefit Systems present “Warriors with Wings: Valley Airbases in WWII” Wednesday, October 3, at 7:30pm (Ch. 6). Repeats Sunday at 6pm. Warriors with Wings features the history of central valley airbases Mather, McClellan, and Travis and their surrounding communities, with personal accounts from historians, veterans, and civilians. As gateways to the Pacific and last stops on the way to war, these airbases played a vital role in WWII and forever impacted the Central Valley.

Warriors With Wings explores Mather Field, the valley’s first major military base, which according to Historian Derrel Fleener, closed its gates at the end of World War I due to the popular belief that it was “the war to end all wars.” Given the urgency of the war effort, Mather was later reopened as a navigation-training facility. Throughout WWII men from all over the world learned how to navigate from Mather Field. An interview with WWII Veteran David Morse details his personal experience as an aircraft systems instructor at Mather.

In 1935, McClellan opened as a depot level maintenance facility to overhaul and repair frontline aircraft, such as the B-25 bomber, and troop transport airliners, including the Douglas DC-3, which flew over the beachheads of Normandy on D-Day.

Travis warriors standing on aircraft wing
Travis warriors standing on aircraft wing

By 1942, Mather and McClellan were in full operation, yet military leaders decided another major facility was needed between Sacramento and San Francisco, thus Travis was built to enhance coastal defense. Unlike other airbases, Travis would stand the test of time.

Not only were the men’s strength and resolve put to the test during the War, women were called upon for duty as well, supporting the home front by working industrial jobs. Bette June Hocking shares her story as a mechanic learner making 87 cents per hour, later advancing to an aircraft mechanic.

WWII Veteran Frank Iida personally details the burdens and tribulations for the Japanese American Community as they were placed in internment camps and forced to prove their loyalty to the United States.

Mechanics at work
Mechanics at work

At their peak, the valley’s airbases had more than twenty-two thousand employees, many of whom had come from throughout the country and decided to make the valley their home. This documentary shows how the economic impact of World War II not only expanded the population of the Central Valley but brought about a great deal of social change in the communities, including racial diversity and opportunities for women.

The KVIE “ViewFinder” series is underwritten by Allied Insurance and SAFE Credit Union.

About KVIE Public Television:

KVIE Public Television, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, inspires audiences and enriches their lives through engaging programs and educational services.

Established in 1959, KVIE serves more than 650,000 households in the nation’s 20th largest television market. With one of the largest geographic signals in the country, KVIE can be viewed in 28 counties through its analog signal, more than 60 cable systems and satellite providers, in high-definition on KVIE-DT, and in Spanish on KVIE V-me.

KVIE actively creates original local programming and is one of the leading producers of public television programming in the country. For more information, visit KVIE’s Web site at www.kvie.org.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.