Jim Peterson, of Vernon Hills, Ill., a former B-36 gunner based at Walker AFB from 1954-56, checks out the displays at the Walker AFB Museum, Friday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Over 100 Walker Air Force Base veterans from across the country will be arriving in Roswell to attend the “Lest we Forget” banquet, in their honor, on Saturday. The Walker Aviation Museum is celebrating its one year anniversary in conjunction with the opening of two exhibits, “Lest We forget: Roswell Army Airfield- The Early Years” and “Peace Through Strength,” as well as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Roswell Army Airfield, known by its later name as the Walker Air Force Base.
The event also coincided with the reunions of the 6th Bomb Wing and 40th Bomb Squadron. On Friday, men from the 6th Bomb Wing and the 40th Bomb Squadron, reminiscing about their time in service, peered into glass cases featuring memorabilia — a map of Hiroshima, a Roswell Army Flying School matchbook cover and an Enola Gay book signed by members of the crew — as part of their respective reunions at the museum.
The 6th Bomb Wing was established on Dec. 20, 1950, and activated on January 2, 1951, at the Walker AFB. It was equipped with B-29 Superfortress aircraft. The unit consisted of the 24th, 39th and 40th Bomb Squadrons.
Harry Biller, a member of the 6th Bomb Wing from 1956 to 1959, said he is amazed at the growth of Roswell that he’s witnessed as he’s returned through the years for reunions. Biller expressed his appreciation for the exhibit and the museum.
“The younger generation is going to appreciate it,” he said.
The museum opened last fall, with the help of donations.
“This really is a grassroots museum,” said Marie Talnack, a member of the Walker Aviation Museum Foundation Board.
Fundraising events also helped fund the museum. Last fall, Talnack attended the national reunion for the Air Force Missileers where she met the men from the 579th Strategic Missile Squadron who were responsible for operating and maintaining 12 Atlas missile silos around the greater Roswell area. The men helped the museum receive a grant in November 2010 from the Association of Air Force Missileers to open the exhibit, “Peace Through Strength.”