George Steinke, KAAF paintings & me in front of the Base's relocated
Link Trainer Building
Occasionally, military training could be exciting and often extremely dangerous, but for the most part, mind numbing tedium was the order of the day. It was left in the skilled hands of artists to lift spirits with colorful and often humorous depictions of daily life. The three extremely rare KAAF paintings shown at top were brushed onto wallboard, perhaps in a dayroom, and they depict several cartoon subjects that were very popular during the War: Miss LACE & The WOLF (the latter on his keester after being socked by the former), SAD SACK (in the mirror) and SNUFFY SMITH (having another one of his outlandish dreams!)
These are but a few of the precious Kingman Army Air Field paintings in the
Depot 41 Museum Collection
his unrivaled character - which, by the way, included a charming sense of humor - George I. Steinke was not only the single most influential person with regard to nearly every aspect of my Kingman involvement, he remains one of the dearest friends I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Among his many accomplishments, during the late 40's George was instrumental in convincing Mohave County to move their antiquated PORT KINGMAN operations
(with its outdated buildings & dirt runways) just a few miles further north on Hwy 66 in order to take advantage of the modern and recently-vacated Army Air Field.
According to this vintage poster, their stable of planes included Aeronca Champions, Stearmans, Fairchilds and BT-13s!
After living a life full of adventures, George passed away in August of 2002, nearly reaching his 98th birthday.
Amongst all the Kingman Bomber artifacts in my shop is this tribute to George - a pair of DH (maybe Curtiss Jenny?) biplane wheels from him plus a vintage propeller, recalling the early days of aviation, of which he was such a big part!
George may be physically gone, but his indomitable spirit is with me daily and there will definitely be more on him later.... JCS
Kingman Army Air Field Pics
- 1 March 1943: FIRST NURSES ASSIGNED TO POST
- 10 MARCH 1943: INSTALLATION OF WIND T
- 13 MARCH 1943: OPENING OF POST GASOLINE STATION,
LT. COL. O. KEESE, BASE S-4 OFFICER, IS FIRST CUSTOMER
"To John - Thanks for the Memory,
And thanks for all you fellas did, Bob & Jerry!
Kingman Army Air Field Pics (modern)
Some of the many thousands of pieces of KAAF history that were saved by yours truly:
Donated to Kingman Army Airfield Museum years ago by Frank & Doris Bonham, this 6' airplane can opener was part of KAAF's Crash Truck equipment. Possibly unique to the Base, it was used by several Firemen to puncture, then rip open a fuselage in order to extract airmen.
The unusual artifact was purchased at KAAM's June 2016
3-1/2' X 3-1/2' K.A.A.F. wallboard painting WRITE TO Mother and Dad AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK and letters Alban F. Varnado wrote his folks while training at Kingman Army Air Field . . .
Alban graduated from Kingman's Gunnery School in 1944, then was sent to Hondo, Texas for Navigational Training before being assigned to the 306th Bomb Group in England.
He passed away December 11, 2015 at the age of 94.
BELOW . . .
Seventeen 56" Tires removed from Kingman Heavies and perhaps even Dominators - classified as VH (Very Heavy) bombers - that represent several WWII manufacturers:
...narrows it's bomber down to either
a Flying Fortress or a Liberator!
And finally, a relatively contemporary photo of the KAAF theater remains some 60 years after the War, taken from about where the stage would have been:
Tell me, is that music I hear above Arizona's perpetual wind, or only my mind playing tricks on me again?!
photo credits this page:
George I. Steinke,
Keith A. Lewis,
Vern and Maude Heaton,
Depot 41 Photo Archives
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