JAMES V. EDMUNDSON
Remarks given at dedication ceremony for the 468th Bomb Group plaque on 20th Air Force Wall at Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado 10 August 1992
Some Air Force units are living history. An example is First Fighter Group. Organized in France May 5, 1918, it served on the Front Line until the end of World War I, flying Nieuports, Spads, and Sopwith Camels, with people in it like Eddie Rickenbacker, Raoul Lufbery, and Frank Luke. It flew P-38s in North Africa and Italy in World War II, and F-15s in the skies over Iraq during “Desert Storm,’ and today lives as the First Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base.
468th Bombardment Group (VH) is a different kind of unit. Rather than living history, the 468th is a legend from the past…a page in the history of airpower’s greatest years.
The 468th Group was organized at Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Salina, Kansas, in 1943 and de-activated at Roswell, New Mexico just three years later.
It flew only one kind of airplane, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.
It was created for just one purpose – to carry the Air War to Japan, and bring that nation to its knees. Once that mission was accomplished, our nation no longer needed the 468th, and it was disbanded.
In 1946, as its Commander, it was my duty to box-up the 468th Group history, its records, its colors, its battle streamers, and even the Billy Mitchell House Flag, or which we all were so proud, and send it all off to be stored in an Army warehouse in St. Louis, where it was all destroyed in a fire a few years later.
The greatness of the 468th lives only in the pages of history and in the memories of those of us who served in it.
The 468th was a one-generation outfit. A single generation of Americans served in it, fought in it, and shared their friendship and pride with men who served with them. Many of our numbers gave their lives as a part of their service.
Its history is written.
Its books are closed.
Its color no longer fly.
We are the 468th.
It is a proud day for me, to be here with you all today, and to dedicate our outfit’s plaque on the 20th Air Force Wall.
It is fitting for it to be here at the final resting place of so many of our great Air Force leaders.
It is especially proper for it to be here where our old Boss, General Curtis E. LeMay, can keep an eye on it, as he did on us during our years of service under him.
During the coming years, many classes of young Air Force Academy Cadets will look at our plaque. We can hope that they will be inspired in their Air force service by the loyalty and devotion, the courage and love of America that this plaque of ours represents. In this way the glory of our outfit may live in the Air Force of tomorrow.
This is as it should be, because while the 468th loomed large in our lives and is very real in our memories, our numbers are few and will become fewer with the passage of time.
But long after we are gone, our plaque will be here on this Wall as a reminder to all who comes this way of our outfit, the 468th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, and the part it played in preserving our nation’s freedom.
(Colonel James V. Edmundson, Air Corps, U.S. Army, commanded 468th Bombardment Group (VH) from November 1944 until February 1946)