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February 2022
104-Year-Old World War II Veteran
Would 'Certainly Do It Again' 

The museum recently celebrated the 104th birthday of Colorado Springs resident Dr. Monica Agnew-Kinnaman, who served in the British anti-aircraft artillery during World War II. Would she do it again? "Well, yes, I'd certainly do it again," she said in response to a question from a crowd of well-wishers at the February 12th event in the museum's Kaija Raven Shook Aeronautical Pavilion.

Dr. Agnew-Kinnaman -- she later earned a PhD in psychology -- was one of many British women who served alongside the men of the Royal Artillery in anti-aircraft crews. She performed duties tracking the bombers, determining fuse settings, and directing fire. She first served at a gun site on the south coast of England between Portsmouth and Southampton, helping to protect Allied shipping and nearby Royal Navy bases. She was later posted to the Thames Estuary, which German bombers used as an aid to navigate to bomb London. "She was in a hotspot," said museum Historian and Curator, Colonel Gene Pfeffer (USAF-ret.).

Agnew-Kinnaman said she was "in the ranks for five months" as an aircraft spotter. "We had height-finders, range-finders which were tracking bombers coming in, and that's what we did.... It was an awful time." As a captain, she was in charge of firing. "When the bombers came within range, I'd shout 'Fire!' and then as they went out of range or were shot down, I'd say, 'Cease Loading!' Otherwise, we'd track them again."
Many women of Britain's Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) served as members of the Royal Artillery’s anti-aircraft gun crews. The ATS was the women’s auxiliary of the British Army. Prime Minister Winston Churchill's daughter, Mary Soames, served at a gun site in London. The future Queen of England, Elizabeth Windsor, was a subaltern, or lieutenant, in the ATS. So, as a captain, Pfeffer said, Agnew-Kinnaman "at some point out-ranked the future Queen!"

"We used to claim" having shot down German planes, Agnew-Kinnaman said in response to a question. "But," she said to laughter from the crowd, "of course, everyone was claiming them."

Several other veterans of World War II joined the crowd in celebrating her 104th birthday.
One veteran, Bill Roche, said he "served for 33 years in the military, and I think it was worth it, through [World War II] and also through the Cold War. But I think the thing that we have to remember are those that are not here, the ones that sacrificed their lives." He was a B-17 gunner who was shot down twice. "I was with the Eighth Air Force which had 26,000 killed in action and... those are the people we should remember. I think we all think it was worth it."

Another vet, Ed Beck, said he was an ex-prisoner of war, "captured in the Battle of the Bulge, and would I do it again? Yes, because I'm an American soldier and this is the greatest country around. And," he said to applause, "if it weren't for us, the Greatest Generation, we wouldn't be here today."

Story and Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Noe Romero, Who Served on USS Yorktown, Passes Away at 96
Noe Romero, who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) during World War II, passed away in Colorado Springs on January 17 at the age of 96. Noe, who volunteered for the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, served aboard the Yorktown during the epic battles of Coral Sea and Midway in 1942.

Born November 13, 1925 in San Luis, Colorado, Noe was proud of his service and, during a visit to the museum with several other WWII veterans in August of 2020, he described some of his experiences. He was a member of a team that would load gas and weapons aboard aircraft on the hangar deck, ride with the planes up to the flight deck on the No. 1 elevator, and then go back down to repeat the process. They would "do it all day," he said.

At Coral Sea in May 1942, Yorktown was hit in the center of the flight deck by a Japanese bomb that killed or wounded 66 men. As many as 12 near-misses damaged the ship's hull. Noe survived. The ship was able to return to Hawaii for repairs that were supposed to take two weeks but was at sea again in only 72 hours, headed for Midway.

At Midway, Yorktown was hit by four Japanese bombs and later, while under tow, struck by two Japanese torpedoes. After the surviving crew members boarded other ships, Yorktown sank on June 7, 1942. One hundred and forty-one officers and men had been killed.

Noe remembered a bomb hit. "There was a lot of fire on the flight deck, [which] we had to fight.... I was on the second [deck], right next to where" a bomb exploded.

Roger Fortin, a friend, said Noe "dived behind a large spool that draws the cable to pull the darken-ship curtains across. That's the only thing that saved his life. He and one other of the seven on his crew survived. Five of them were killed immediately."

"Noe continued to support our military through his work as a cook at the United States Air Force Academy from which he retired after 23 years of service," The Colorado Springs Gazette said in an obituary. "Friends were abundant in his life. As he outlived most of his generation of friends, he attracted a new generation of friends with his easy-going personality and unique sense of humor."

Story & Photo Credit: Rich Tuttle
Lt. Jack Arnold Shot Down a Japanese Plane at Pearl Harbor ... with a Rifle!
Lt. Jack Arnold jumped into the cockpit of an F4F Wildcat as Japanese planes roared by. It was December 7, 1941, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was underway.
But Jack Arnold couldn’t take off. A sailor climbed up on his wing and shouted, “You can’t take off! You have no ammunition!”

Instead, Arnold got out, found a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) … and shot down a Japanese plane!

“He was a huge duck hunter, so he really knew how to lead [a target] and that really served him well,” said his great-nephew, Jack Arnold. He saw a museum Facebook item about one of our two flightworthy TBM Avengers, a type his relative flew in World War II.

“Very cool,” great-nephew Arnold wrote in response to the August 18, 2021, post. “My great uncle Jack was the squadron commander of VT-2 on the second Hornet and flew TBM Avengers, until he was promoted to Air Group Two’s Commander and then flew Hellcats with VF-2.”

Jackson Dominick Arnold graduated from the Naval Academy in 1934 and retired from the Navy in 1971 as a full admiral. He received the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded for “exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility.”

One of Arnold’s most memorable aviation experiences came in 1938 when he was aboard the light cruiser USS Savannah as Senior Aviator for Cruiser Scouting Squadron Eight. He was helping to test the idea of blacked-out, night operations at sea of ship-launched, float-equipped observation planes. Day recovery was common; the plane was launched by catapult, performed its mission, then landed next to the ship to be hoisted aboard by crane.
After the first night flight, in a Curtiss SOC-1 Seagull, Arnold said such operations were possible, but probably not with the same pilot for more than one flight. “He said it was the scariest flight he ever did,” said his great nephew.

In May 1941, Arnold was assigned to Naval Air Station Pearl Harbor on Ford Island as an engineering test pilot.

When he found that the F4F had no ammunition during the Japanese attack, he abandoned it at the base of the control tower and began firing the BAR at Japanese planes strafing the flight line. The one he hit crashed on Ford Island.

From May 1942 to March 1943, he helped form Torpedo Squadron Two (VT-2) at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. He commanded that squadron, which flew Avengers and was attached to the second USS Hornet (the first was sunk at the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1942) until June 1943.

He led VT-2 attacks on Japanese forces in the area of Hollandia, New Guinea, and on Truk Island in April 1944, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions. The Navy says Arnold “destroyed three enemy twin-engine medium bombers and a large enemy anti-aircraft gun position and directed attacks on fuel and ammunition dumps, barracks, and large warehouse areas.”

One member of VT-2, Kenneth M. Glass, later wrote that he “immediately liked the man, and felt that I could depend on him to be a leader and a friend. The Skipper was a friendly man, with complete integrity, but also one who could make decisions and be tough when the occasion demanded it…. Morale was high in the squadron, and to a man, we would have followed the Skipper into any situation he felt necessary.”
Arnold held the VT-2 post until May 1944. He was then promoted to Commander of Air Group Two (CAG-2) aboard the Hornet. One account says Arnold was offered the CAG job at 2200 the night before the June 15, 1944, invasion of Saipan.

“The first takeoff was at 0430, to allow the aircraft to be over the beach 30 minutes prior to sunrise,” one account says. “Although an experienced pilot with flight time in an extremely wide variety of aircraft, Arnold had never flown a Hellcat. After planning the attack, he went down to the flight deck and boarded the CAG aircraft with its 99 on the nose. With a flashlight under a blanket, he familiarized himself with the aircraft, then went to his room for a brief rest. On that very first flight he got the only two kills he was to get in the Hellcat.”

During the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, on June 20, 1944, Arnold led an attack on enemy ships so far away that a safe return to carriers of his own task force was in question, this account says. “He felt that a mass ditching would allow the downed aircrews to support each other until” the task force arrived.

The attack was successful, and no such ditching was required, but night recovery with low fuel was difficult.

Arnold “personally scored a damaging near miss on the [Japanese] aircraft carrier Zuikaku, then led his flight back to base and assisted several in his group in landing in darkness under extremely difficult conditions before boarding the carrier himself, a feat for which he was awarded the Navy Cross.”

Arnold’s other awards included the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Five Air Medals.

After the war, he held a series of administrative and flying commands. He logged more than 3,900 flying hours and 290 carrier catapult launches. In 1952, he completed work on an MBA degree at Harvard University. He became a full admiral and Chief of Naval Material in 1970, and was the only aeronautical engineer to reach four-star rank. He passed away in Encinitas, California, in 2007 at age 95.

He and his wife, Muriel McChesney Arnold, whom he married in Hawaii a few weeks after Pearl Harbor, retired to Rancho Santa Fe, California, where they remained active in community affairs and volunteer activities.

“Jack Arnold will be forever my Skipper,” Kenneth Glass wrote.

Story Credit: Rich Tuttle
The Roar of the Cat!
Always a crowd favorite, Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat 80375 sports two Pratt & Whitney R2800-34 Double Wasp engines capable of 2100 horsepower each, giving the Tigercat a top speed of 460 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 40,400 feet, and a combat range of over 700 miles.
Although F7Fs became operational too late to see action during WWII, they did serve in a lesser-known peacekeeping role immediately in its aftermath. In October 1945, Tigercats of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing deployed to Peiping, China; there they supported the 53,000 U.S. Marines sent to China to keep the peace while millions of Japanese troops and civilians were disarmed and repatriated.
Armed with four 20mm AN/M3 cannons and an AN/APS-6 radar in the nose, F7F-3N’s later served as night fighters in Korea with the “Flying Nightmares”, Marine Corps Night Fighter Squadron VMF(N)-513. The F7F-3N’s of VMF(N)-513 scored only two aerial victories, both versus antiquated North Korean Soviet-made Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes, aircraft that had been in production since 1929.
The F7F holds the distinction of being not only the first U.S. Navy fighter designed with tricycle landing gear, but also the first Navy fighter with twin engines! Because of its large size and weight, however, it could only be operated on Midway-class aircraft carriers (the USS Midway, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, and USS Coral Sea). As it turns out, only thirteen F7F-4N variants ended up rated for carrier operations.
Our Tigercat 80375 was delivered to the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Naval Air Station Anacostia, Washington DC. After being declared surplus, it was acquired and stored by the United States Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia, before being traded to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Arizona. WestPac Restorations then acquired and restored her to flying condition, one of the few survivors of only 60 F7F-3N models that were produced.
See Tigercat 80375, and the rest of our amazing collection, during your visit to the museum!

Story and Photo Credit: George White
Did You Know ...
Walking around the museum hangars on a recent weekend, I turned a corner and found myself standing in front of this massive wooden propeller blade and thought incredulously, “What aircraft did that come from?!”.
As it turns out, this is a NASA Langley Research Center 16-Foot Transonic Tunnel Turbine Blade. The blade is made of Sitka Spruce and is of the type used for testing from 1951 to 2004. It measures approximately 11 feet long (hence my surprise when I turned that corner), 36 inches wide, 14 inches thick at the base, and weighs in at around 250 pounds.
The first major US government wind tunnel testing center was at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the predecessor to NASA), in Hampton, Virginia. Would you be surprised to hear they went operational not in the 1940’s, 50’s or even 60’s, but back in 1921? They later developed the High Speed Tunnel (HST), which began operation on December 5th, 1941, just two days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The list of WWII aircraft that had aspects of their operation tested in the HST included the TBF Avenger, F6F Hellcat, A-26 Invader, XF4F-8 Wildcat, and SB2U Vindicator.
In the late 1940’s the HST was upgraded to the 16-Foot Transonic Tunnel. Its blade configuration was changed to accommodate air speeds from 0.1 to 1.3 Mach, allowing for easier testing of transonic technology, while changes to the facility itself included installation of a 60,000-horsepower drive system! Design elements of the very first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight, the Bell X-1, were later tested utilizing the new tunnel in 1951.
In addition to aircraft, bomb and rocket technology was also tested. The only radio-controlled guided bomb used by the US in WWII, the AZON, was tested in 1944 before being used in the China-Burma-India theatre by B-24 crews to knock out 14 bridges. In 1962, elements of the Apollo Escape System were tested, followed by models of the Saturn V rocket. In the 1970’s the Space Shuttle program utilized the facility.

The museum’s turbine blade has aided in testing of such aircraft as the F-111 Aardvark, F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-18 Hornet, F-117 Nighthawk, B-1 Lancer, and B-2 Spirit.

As you can see in the attached photos, the blades are pretty impressive both on their own and as they were when mounted in place; note the technician on the right side of the chamber for scale!

You never know what new display is going to pop up at the museum … come in and see for yourself!

Story Credit: George White Photo Credit: George White, NASA
February Volunteer Spotlight - Eric Gieske
While visiting the museum on a recent weekend I noticed a kid with spray bottle in one hand, towel in the other, going display case to display case in Hangar 2 and cleaning off the smears and grime left by visitors who’d leaned in a little too close for a better look. A little while later in the Pavilion, I looked up to see him in the cockpit of White 33 wiping down the inside of the canopy (and thought to myself, man, that would be a cool job). An hour later, there he was in WestPac, this time with a couple of long brushes, making his way from aircraft to aircraft, slowly and patiently wiping the dust off of wing surfaces and fuselages. All the while, as he worked, visitors on the tours walked right on by without a second glance.

Except for me. I noticed, stopped, spoke for a few minutes, took some photos, and knew I had the perfect candidate for this inaugural Volunteer Spotlight because here was somebody doing a great job on something that makes a huge difference in crowd presentation, but which is met with very little accolades.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Eric Gieske. Hailing from Colorado Springs, Eric attends The Classical Academy (Class of 2024 ... Go Titans!) and has been a museum volunteer since September 2021. 

His volunteer position? Janitor! “I maintain the facilities, whether that be cleaning buildings, airplanes, or the restrooms.”
When asked what made him want to become a museum volunteer, Eric said, “I was inspired to volunteer because I like aviation and history. I enjoy cleaning the aircraft and would like to become a docent.”

His favorite aircraft? P-38 Lightning White 33, and who wouldn’t love a job that lets you clean the cockpit of your favorite aircraft!

Thank you for your work, Eric!
Story and Photo Credit: George White
Upcoming Events
Join us Saturday, March 19th, as we feature a presentation by John Lynch, a docent and former Navy officer, on the early 1942 carrier raids against Japanese-held islands immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This event may feature an aircraft demonstration flight (date to be determined). If it does happen, it will likely be the SBD Dauntless!

Check the museum events calendar at for updated event information!

Photo Credit: George White
This Month's Newsletter Contributors

Gene Pfeffer
Historian & Curator
Rich Tuttle

Rich Tuttle
Docent, Newsletter Writer, Social Media Writer, Photographer

George White
Newsletter Editor, Social Media Writer, Photographer