Do you have a story to share from your time at Malden Army Airfield or Malden Air Base? We'd love to hear from you! Meanwhile, here are some memories of Malden that have been generously shared with us and may sound somewhat familiar to you.
There comes a time in life when grandchildren are old enough that it feels acceptable to share
stories about crazy things we did in our youth with the help of liquid courage. Sometimes
everyone just desperately needs a laugh. Perhaps during a global pandemic.
These forces recently collided during a socially-distanced outdoor birthday lunch with my son
Brian and my father: Richard Meyer, class of 60G.
My father had us howling as he recounted his time training at Malden AFB. One night, after
enjoying some beers with his fellow flight trainees, he made the clever decision that the time
was right to swim across the Mississippi River! By our calculations, a swim of about 1.5 miles.
Brian: “Poppy! What were you wearing?” (How about: what were you thinking?!)
My father: “Well I think I had a bathing suit on.” (Seriously?)
As you may conclude from my existence, my father actually made it to the other side!
Brian: “What did you do when you got to other side?”
Me, laughing: “You didn’t want you turn around and swim back??”
My father: “I walked up to a farmer’s house and he gave me some dry clothes.” (What a nice
Apparently, the base went on alert when my father did not return in a timely fashion, and the
story of his swim made the newspaper!
Brian: “Poppy, did you get in trouble?”
My father: “I don’t think I did!”
My father went on to become an F-100 pilot, serve in Turkey, and even perform in an air show
for JFK. He is a spectacular person: an amazing grandfather, a builder of wooden kayaks (and
anything thing else his grandchildren desire!), an avid reader, a dedicated volunteer at a goat
farm, a student at UNH, a cat lover, a lover of learning, and an athlete (he’s run 70 marathons).
As long as I’ve known him, he’s never been a huge fan of swimming.
Richard A. Meyer, Class 60-GRichard A. Meyer, Class 60-G
I was a Cadet in Class 54 India at Malden AFB 1953. I enjoyed the people of Malden and Poplar Bluff where we found the one place for late coffee and burgers. We often went to nearby Drive In Movies. I recall that on my Check Flight in June '53 we received radio message to return to base to avoid high wind. We flew to the Base where the approach was over a junkyard and Poplar trees. Wind caught my left wing resulting in the aircraft starting to roll right when my hand moved the stick left to offset roll when Lt. Brown let out a deep breath and said- "Whoo! I did'nt think you would make it'" That was the single moment I realized that I was actually flying that plane!
Carl E. Olsen, Class 55-IndiaCarl E. Olsen, Class 54-I
I was there in Class 55R, year 1954.
Mr. Widner was my Flying Instructor.
I learned so much from him!!
I flew for 30 years, Honduras Air Force and then Commercial Pilot ( US ATP # 1830775 ), logged over 24,000 hours.
THANK YOU for your Support!!!Carlos Antonio Gamundi, Class 55-R
Carlos A. Gamundi
Frank Priebe was the “Tom Cat” flight commander and Glenn Stoner was my IP. One of the IP’s was Den Herder; a Dutchman who checked out in the T-37 and was considered a “superstar”.
A USAF Lt. Col. Cole was the Base Commander in the fall of 1957. Was this the same Dick Cole who was Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo raid? I remember him wearing a pistol on his hip, on weekends, prior to going hunting.
AAA IP J. N. Butterfield made, and sold, commemorative “Tom Cat” ceramic plates; mine which I will donate to the museum along with some Class 59-B pics.
-- Frank A. Urbanic, Jr. Major USAF (Ret.) Class 59-BFrank A. Urbanic, Jr., Major USAF (Ret), Class 59-B
Looking back, I find it hard to comprehend what this country did after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. That happened on December 7, 1941---the year was over and by1943 the Malden Army Airfield was constructed and in operation along with auxiliary fields at Campbell. Dexter, Gideon, Risco, Poplar Bluff plus airports at Sikeston, Blytheville, Hornersville and a huge B17 base at Halls, Tn. plus others and this is just in our local area. Today the environmental papers could not be printed. The first aircraft at Malden were Consolidated BT13s (nicknamed the BT Vibrator). They were all polished aluminum but one which had a yellow and blue paint job. The sky was full of BT13s every clear day and the painted one would perform aerobatics regularly. I would stand in the cotton patch and dream of flying for hours. Suddenly the BT13s were gone and Douglas C47 transports arrived at Malden along with the gliders. Then about anytime you looked up you would see a C47 pulling one or two gliders. On several occasions, gliders would come loose and land in local fields. I watched them pick one up out of a field with a C47--quite a show. They made a large loop in the tow line and supported it on poles and a C47 with a large hook flew down low and engaged the loop with the hook and the glider shot into the air mucho pronto. It went from a dead stop to 130-40 MPH in seconds. It took 3 or 4 passes for the C47 to pick the glider up but we didn't care--we were enjoying the show. We all thought they were training glider pilots but I later, learned from John T. that they were training C47 pilots to pull gliders. He told me that he had finished training and was based in Texas and that there was so many new pilots that they did not know what to do with them and one morning a notice appeared on the board that there was spots open at Malden for training as C47 glider tow pilots so he volunteered and came to Malden. (He married a girl from Kennett and came back to Malden when it was reactivated). When the gliders crash landed, we were told that the tow rope broke but John T. told me that the ropes seldom broke-- the C47 pilots could unhook and if an engine coughed, they would drop the glider. He said it got so bad that the base commander made every C47 pilot ride in the gliders and they seldom dropped one after that. Those pilots who trained at Malden were some of the men that flew the C47s for the D-Day invasion in June 1944.
We can't say enough thanks to the men who flew those C47s and gliders or repay them for what they did. Most are gone now.
By the way, the gliders were on loan from the glider training schools located at Sedalia, Mo, and Salem, KY.
Enough for now
--Carlton Stewart (AAA Dispatcher)Carlton Stewart, Dispatcher
Malden class 55-L. Aviation CadetTheodore Osinski Class 55-L
Great Instructor Reynold S Smith. Demanded excellence. Had a knack of keeping you just shot of your breaking point.
Went on to only F-86 slot at Nellis after graduation.
Flew numerous aircraft including F-105 Test Pilot at Republic Aviation Corp. Also Career with Pan Am & UAL
I was stationed at Malden Air Base for about nine months, from August 1952 until April 1953. I was a staff sergeant and worked on the line under a old warrant officer whose name I cannot remember now. I was stationed at Vance Air Force base at Enid, Okla when I volunteered for this assignment. I drew perdiem and lived in town during my time there at Malden as they had no living quarters for enlisted personnel. I really enjoyed my time spend there and wished I could have spent the rest of my enlistment stationed there but they were going to close down the base so I was send back to Vance Air Force Base.Joe Jarrett
As written to Sherry Granger from Barry De Vries:
Barry DeVries and James Granger CLASS 54-M
Receiving your email made MY day. I'm so happy that I was able to help in some small way. As I was writing the note in the card, I kept wondering if I was saying the the right things.
Jim and I first met at Malden Air Base, MO where we would take our primary flight training. We shared a room with two other guys, Don Long and Bob Reisenwitz. Housing was in chicken coops, converted to barracks. We got 20 hours in Piper Cubs before we moved on to the T-6, a larger and more complex aircraft. Sometime after our solo flights in the T-6, we had to do a night cross country from Malden to Paducah, KY to Dyersburg, TN and back to Malden. Half of us went in that direction and the other half in the opposite with a 1,000 feet altitude separation. We were separated from those going in the same direction by 10 minutes each. The T-6 had no navigation equipment so, all this was done by drawing our course lines on charts and following those with compass headings. We were required to do our engine run up checks with the cockpit canopy open. During that procedure, Earl Wenberg's chart flew out of his open cockpit. After an oh s--t, Earl thought oh well, I've been around this course in daylight and besides that, I'm following Granger and I'll be able to see his lights. Everything went ok on the leg to Paducah but, guess who wound up over Memphis instead of Dyersburg? Yup, Earl. There were instructors orbiting at each of the two turning points so, I guess it was the one over Dyersburg. who heard him on the radio calling for help saying "this city looks a lot larger than Dyersburg." He was then told by the instructor to "continue the orbit where you are and I'll come over and lead you home." That as almost 64 years ago so, I'm not sure that my memory of it all is correct. I think Jim flew the correct course and Earl probably just lost sight of him along the way and headed for the city lights.
After our six months at Malden, I went to Vance AFB, Enid, OK and finished there with my rating on the B-25. I didn't see Jim until years later at a class 54-M reunion in either TUL or OKC. I forget; we had both a year apart. We kept in touch and attended a Malden Air Base reunion together, several years later.
BarryBarry De Vries & James Granger CLASS 54-M
Ralph Summer 1950's Guard
More than anything I wish that I would run across a picture of my Dad, Ralph Summer, in his uniform--he always looked so handsome. The best memory I have of the airbase is the wonderful 4th of July picnics they would have. I thought it was always so neat! I also remember the pool at the base. That is where we always went swimming. I spent many summer afternoons there. Blessings, Marilyn Chana
How nice of you to keep all these memories alive! I was in Class 57-G arrived Jan'56 to Jul'56, then to Goodfellow AFB, TX for last 6 mos., B-25's. Flew T-34&T-28's at Malden. I think we were 4th class to fly T-34/T-28 after change from T-6. Civilian pilot instructors (a lot of crop dusters) and small cadre of military, who flew our check rides. Great instructors and friendly town folks. I was ROTC grad/2nd Lt. so could go to town more than Cadets. Those guys really got there butts worked off! My instructor was Bobby Jack Mars, local crop duster, great guy and instructor, stood about 5'-6" but could he fly!! Remember first welcome to Malden AB, told it was northern most pilot trng. base, but how good WX was and flying time on schedule. That night norther came thru and aircraft were frozen to ramp for 2 days! During trng. on night solo cross country (triangle route with instructors at turning points) an aircraft flew thru the projection light at a drive-in movie! Next day all students who flew the night before were told we would be washed out if the culprit didn't confess. Nobody did, and we never heard another word about it. We finally concluded it was one of the turning point (instructors) aircraft! Flew B-25's another 8 mos. after got my wings(Jan'57), then T-29's 3 yrs.(support to Nav. Trng) at James Connelly AFB, Waco, TX. Off Active Duty but stayed in Active Reserve another 17 yrs. I didn't know history of Malden AB all these years but sure nice to read these memories. Keep up the good work!
R. Strottman Class 57-GR. Strottman, Class 57-G