‘Gallant Men’ exhibit at air museum adds historical insight

The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum, through its exhibits, plays an important educational role in explaining the history of the former military air base that operated in the city for nearly 30 years and is now home to Columbus Municipal Airport.

Visitors at the museum, located on the north side of Columbus next to the airport, can learn about World War II glider pilots and see a restored glider nose, for example. A barracks display shows how soldiers lived at the air base. Also among the many exhibits is one about the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed black squadron whose history includes training at the former Atterbury Army Air Field.

In another section of the museum, a different exhibit of great educational value can also be found. “Our Gallant Men” features the histories of seven exceptional military veterans who distinguished themselves with honor displayed on a wall.

The seventh name was added to the display Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Mark Pillar, a Columbus resident, served in the Air Force for 37 years. Pillar flew missions in the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield, and defended the no-fly zone with NATO forces in Bosnia. For his actions, Pillar was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal, among others.

Pillar joins the previous six: Forest Bruce Warren, Thomas Thayer, John Walter, Richard Thayer, John Hoff and Bob Hilycord.

“Our Gallant Men” is an important exhibit because it brings to life the country’s military history with known names and faces from the community. The histories of the seven honored men on the wall give insight into what conflicts the country was facing at certain periods of time, and how Americans such as these men responded with a sense of duty and courage.

Those who operate the museum could easily have limited exhibits to those relating just to the history of the air base. However, honoring local veterans who distinguished themselves with honor is an appreciated touch for added insight gained by learning of their experiences, and recognizing their valuable contributions in protecting the United States.