The Wings of Honor WWII Museum in Walnut Ridge will begin a walk through history series, “Their Stories,” on Thursday evening, April 27. Ron Lanoue of Little Rock will open the series by sharing the military accomplishments of his father, Roland Joseph Lanoue, who received his basic flight training at Walnut Ridge in World War II.
Thursday’s event begins with a reception and live music in the museum’s main gallery from 5:00 until 6:00. Dinner will be served at 6:00 in the Carolyn Propst Conference Room for a $10 per person donation. The program will begin at 6:30.
Ron Lanoue was the director of Arkansas Legal Services Partnership until his retirement in 2010, and currently serves as a volunteer at the Clinton Library.
His father, Roland Joseph Lanoue, born in 1921 in Fall River, Massachusetts, was in Aviation Cadet Class 44-A at the Walnut Ridge Army Air Forces Basic Flying School. He served in the United States Army Air Forces from 1942-1945. After leaving Walnut Ridge and completing advanced single engine training, Mr. Lanoue was awarded his wings and went on to fly a P-51 Mustang in combat.
Roland Lanoue was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. He was a member of the 8th Air Force stationed in England from 1944-1945, and he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant with one kill in the air and 11 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground. He had three brothers who also served their country: one each in Italy, France and the Pacific.
Contact Harold Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 901-828-2257 to make reservations for the dinner and program, as seating is limited. The museum’s WWII Vultee BT-13 basic trainer will be parked near the Airport Terminal from 4:00 until 5:30 PM. Attendees are encouraged to bring their cameras and take photos.
The Wings of Honor WWII Museum is located on the grounds of the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport at 70 Ramp Rd.
Construction on the Walnut Ridge Army Air Field began June 20, 1942. Pilot training began on October 12 that same year — although the air field, buildings, and facilities were far from complete. The school graduated its 18th and final class on June 27, 1944. Over the course of 20 ½ months, 5,310 students entered the program; 4,641 Graduated. Sadly, 42 pilots were killed in training accidents.
Photo attached: Roland Lanoue in front of his airplane in World War II. Lanoue trained at the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School on his way to becoming a combat pilot. His son, Ron Lanoue, will speak at the Wings of Honor WWII Museum Thursday evening about his father’s experiences.