Wilma “Dolly” Vinsant from San Benito graduated with the first class of Army Air Force flight nurses at Bowman Field, Kentucky on February 18, 1943.
By April 1945, Lt. Shea (her new last name from a marriage to a navigator) had flown the maximum number of hazardous missions. Nevertheless, she talked her commander into letting her “make one more trip” and perished with her patients when their evacuation plane was shot down over Germany.
After a short seven-month existence, the American Volunteer Group better known as the “Flying Tigers” flew their last mission in the skies over China on July 4, 1942.
Recruited, trained and led by Claire Chennault (native of Commerce, Texas), the “Tigers” were the sole source of morale-boosting news in the months after Pearl Harbor prior to the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
On June 19, 1945, a first lieutenant wrote the folks back home in North Texas to ask if they had received the packages he mailed from Germany.
The fascinating story of Joe Tom Meador and the Quedlinburg treasure is, as you might have guessed, the subject of my column for the week of Wednesday, June 19 thru Tuesday, June 25. You can read it in your local paper, if it carries “This Week in Texas History,” or on-line as a private email subscriber.