Artist's concept of the B-29 Memorial Plaza
In the fall of 1997 the B-29 Memorial Plaza Committee was established to design and build a memorial to the men and women who made the B-29 project a success. The concept to build a memorial came from Bob Kilburn, a veteran of the 20th Air Force. Bob visited the Great Bend Army Air Field in Great Bend and was dismayed to find little reference to the historic role of the airfield. He inquired about other B-29 airfields: Smoky Hill, Pratt, and Walker, and found they also were not recognized. He suggested a sign be placed at the sites and a plaque be dedicated to the men who gave their lives for their country. From Bob’s suggestions came the concept of for this memorial.
Great Bend was chosen for the memorial site due to the number of original base structures that still exist, and it is typical of other World War II airfields. In addition, the City of Great Bend agreed to donate the land and help maintain the memorial.
Veteran Gene Hinde designed a dramatic and symbolic concept for the memorial - a plaza accessible to the public. From the ground, the intersecting arches represent the emblem of the Global 20th Air Force. Looking up 16 feet, through the arches, gives one the feeling of looking through the nose of the B-29. The centerpiece is a B-29 sculpture cast in stainless steel. The memorial is lighted and visible for two miles. Groups, as well as individuals, are honored with bronze plaques and inscribed bricks placed within the memorial’s walls and brick paths.
Even though the memorial is dedicated to a past era, it represents a look toward the future. It will remind tomorrow’s generations of the sacrifices that were made to keep the United States secure. Those sacrifices will never be forgotten.
B-29 Memorial Wing Commander
Brigadier General Paul Tibbets
Senator Robert Dole
Gene Franklin Hinde (November 8, 1927 - April 21, 2008) was a native of Parsons, Kansas. Graduating from Salina High School in 1945, he enlisted that July in the United States Navy and was assigned to the 61st Naval Construction Battalion at Sama, Philippines.
Following his discharge from the Navy, Gene attended Kansas Wesleyan University, the University of Nebraska and the Chicago Art Institute. During his architectural drafting and design career, he worked for Charles W. & John A. Shaver Architects, Gene F. Hinde and Associates, Wilson and Company Architects and Engineers, and the Shaver Partnership. After his retirement in 1992, he dedicated much of his time to designing veterans' memorials, including the Veterans' Memorial in Salina's Sunset Park, the Kansas Korean War Memorial in Wichita and, of course, the B-29 Memorial Plaza at Great Bend.
Gene's obituary may be read: here.
Contact: B-29 Memorial