Tag: World War II

Silent Wings Museum preserves memory of key role in World War II

Glider planes had an important role in the success of the Normandy Beach Invasion that ended World War II.

The Silent Wings Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory, as well as the history, of these gliders.

0Q6A1985The only museum in the world dedicated to the glider program is located near the Lubbock International Airport, on the edge of the city. In 1971, former pilots of the United States Army Air Force Glider Program formed the National World War II Glider Pilots Association. The main goal of the Glider Pilots Association was to preserve the history of the glider program.

From the inception, the Glider Pilots Association set out to collect artifacts, archival material, and personal accounts of pilots and people working in the program. The main goal the Association wanted to achieve was the procurement of a WACO CG-4A glider.

Pilots from the program in the Dallas area found out about a CG-4A glider sitting on top of a building in Fresno, California. The aircraft was being used as an advertisement for a store. The glider was purchased, and restoration efforts began. It was completed in 1979.

Once the restoration of the glider was complete, efforts began to build a museum to house the CG-4A. The first Silent Wings Museum opened its doors in November of 1984 in Terrell, Texas.

propIn 1997, the pilots who ran the museum as volunteers realized the glider needed a more permanent home. The majority of the pilots of the Glider Pilots Association trained in Lubbock, so the City of Lubbock offered to provide a site for the museum. The Terrell site was closed in 2001, and the new location in Lubbock opened in October 2002 at the former site of the South Plains Army Airfield, where the CG-4A glider sits as the centerpiece of the museum.

Sharon McCullar, curator for the Silent Wings Museum, said, “We have one of only seven fully restored CG-A4 gliders in the world.”

The U.S. Army established a large training facility in Lubbock in 1942, known as the South Plains Army Airfield, for an advanced glider program. The program trained pilots to fly unarmed gliders into enemy territory, land and unload cargo such as anti-tank guns, anti aircraft guns and small vehicles such as jeeps and light tanks.

The South Plains Army Airfield trained 6,000 to 7,000 glider pilots who earned Advanced Training in gliders and the Silver ‘G’ Wing from July 1942 to January 1945.

The glider squadrons played an important role throughout World War II, as they were silent and could fly closer to the front to unload cargo. The gliders also played an important role in the D-Day invasion, landing before dawn and helping to unload Jeeps 0Q6A1928as well as anti-tank guns, Howitzer anti-aircraft guns, and quarter-ton trailers full of ammunition and supplies.   

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain was the main tow plane used for leading the gliders into combat.

The museum is supported by the City of Lubbock for operating costs, according to McCullar. The museum is also supported through memberships. The Silent Wings Museum Foundation helps to obtain grants and get funding for exhibits and projects.

McCullar also said that the busiest time of year is around April, near the end of the school year, when there are a lot of field trips. She added that the annual visitation is around 20,000 people.

Other exhibits at the museum include information about other military training and operations in and around the Lubbock area. One of these programs was the Civilian Pilot 0Q6A1976Training Program, a nationally-sponsored program at select universities. In September 1939, Texas Technological College was accepted into the program with a quota of 40 students.

In July 1940, the Civil Aeronautics Authority designated an advanced flight training course at the college. The course began in October 1940 with an enrollment of 20 students.

In 1942, the college became the screening program for potential military pilot candidates.

The Silent Wings Museum is located at 6202 North  I-27 in Lubbock. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each Sunday.

Admission prices are $8 for general admission, $6 for senior citizens 60 years of age or older, and $5 for children ages 7 to 17, while children under 6 are admitted free. They also offer free admission to museum members and Active Duty Military.

For more information about the Silent Wings Museum, call (806) 775-3049

Musem of Texas Tech displays powerful Holocaust Liberation exhibit

by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor


Many of the Texas Liberations have not talked about their experiences until now. MATT MOLINAR/PLAINSMAN PRESS


When American forces liberated concentration camps, they saw the worst that humanity could do to each other. Many of the Texas Liberators haven’t talked about their experiences until now.

Texas soldiers took part in liberating five concentration camps in April 1945. In August, the Museum of Texas Tech University began featuring the Texas Liberators, a project that features Texas veterans’ personal experiences of liberating concentration camps.

The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 3. There’s also a companion smartphone application and book.

“It’s a three-part program,” said Daniel Tyler, the marketing & communications coordinator for the Museum of Texas Tech, “that the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission have been working on for a few years now. Their goal is to bring more Holocaust education to high schoolers across the state.”

IMG_0086The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission was founded in 2009 by Senate Bill 482. Since then, the THGC has devoted its resources and expertise to the education of students and teachers to better recognize the elements of bigotry and hatred.

“The app is a more interactive way for kids to engage with the education,” said Tyler. “Then there’s the exhibit part, which [The Museum of Texas Tech] has. And there’s also a book [“The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II”] being published later this year. The book is more for everybody, and the app is more geared towards high school students.”

As attendees approach the exhibit, they are greeted by a display of antique furniture that reads: “The Texas Liberator, Witness to the Holocaust.”

The south and west walls display a timeline that provides “an overview of the Holocaust and the context of World War II.”

But as you pass the wall where the furniture is displayed, you’re paralyzed for a moment.

IMG_0093“These freestanding panels are based on the actual personal experiences of some of the Liberators,” said Tyler. “The Liberators are guys from Texas who were soldiers in World War II, and they were a part of the groups that went into Europe and liberated concentration camps.”

Each panel has three sides that display either a recent photo of the veteran, or a photo of their time in the service, and each photo is accompanied by a name and quotes about that veteran’s experience.

The first panel that catches your eye is of J. Ted Hartman, and it reads as follows:

“We were moving along, gaining ground. All of a sudden, these people started showing up in strange-looking clothes, and we couldn’t figure out what they were because we’d never seen anybody that had been in a concentration camp at that point. They started showing up in these stripes, broad stripes. No one had ever told us – I’m not sure anybody knew to tell us – about the concentration camps. We started seeing these people coming out from the trees, from the woods, and then getting in the road and getting in the way.

“They just kept – more and more intensely coming,” it continues. “We’d find some of them lying in the ditches along the road. And then, over the radio they told us that they had just found out that these prisoners had been released from a concentration camp… It was Buchenwald… They had been released to get in our way and to slow our path, slow us down. They did slow us down, but they would stop us and kiss the front of a tank, or they’d salute us. It was – I couldn’t help but cry myself.

“I had never seen anything like that. I couldn’t understand. Some of them had their buddies with them. One of them was taking care of his buddy over on the side of the road. He wouldn’t leave his buddy who, I gathered, was dying. It was just all sorts of little scenes, many scenes along the way.”

According to Tyler, the entire project has been based on the oral accounts of the veterans’ experiences.

“It’s a really personal take on the whole Holocaust story,” said Tyler, “which is unique. A lot of them during this project, during their interviews, it’s the first time they’d ever really talked about it.”

Dr. Eliza Wong, a professor of history at the Texas Tech Honors College, collaborated with the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission and the Oral History Institute at Baylor to organize the Texas Liberators exhibit.