“We must be the great arsenal of democracy.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 1940
When FDR made that statement the United States was not yet at war. However, the deadliest and most destructive war in history had already impacted a large portion of the world. This would all change on December 7th, 1941 when naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor.
Thus started the greatest arsenal of democracy the world will ever see. By the end of World War II in 1945, 16 million men and women will have served in the armed forces of the United States, over 400,000 died defending our nation and untold millions of Americans served and sacrificed in many ways on the Homefront. World War II was indeed on a worldwide scale, touching virtually every place and every person on the planet in one way or another. World War II was also a time the world asked ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Today we look back at World War II as a time so long ago. We can read about the battles and the great leaders, but we must never forget that wars are not fought by nations, they are fought by people, by individuals, and for the majority of those people they go unknown. But every day we are surrounded by American heroes, the Veterans who served during WWII. Unfortunately, we are losing them and their stories all too quickly. You see every Veteran has a story to be told. No matter what role they played, big or little, we have a generation still with us that has firsthand knowledge of a war we must never forget.
The Commemorative Air Force was established in the late 1950s with the mission of restoring in flying condition military aircraft of World War II. Since the 1950s that mission has grown to include telling the stories of those who built, maintained and flew these aircraft. The Joe Foss Squadron recognizes the important role we can play by capturing and sharing a little piece of history in the stories of the Veterans from our hometowns right here in South Dakota and the surrounding states.
The Joe Foss Squadron is honored to carry the name of a hometown hero. While Joe Foss has an amazing story to be told, we are also committed to capturing the stories of other Veterans in our area.
We will post information and video interviews as we are able to collect them. Please feel free to contact us if you know of a Veteran we should reach out to hear their story.
Our goal is not only to keep the aircraft of World War II flying for all to experience the sights and sounds but also to ensure the sacrifices and the stories of those who served will never be forgotten.
S. SGT QC Miles - L-5 Pilot - CBI
173 Missions, 1944-1945
An interview with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Wendell Hanson, United States Air Force. He was a bomber pilot during World War II in the 341st Bomber Group and flew over 50 missions in the China Burma India Theater.
To our World War II Veterans and to all those who have served and those who continue to serve, the Joe Foss Squadron wants to THANK YOU for your service.