WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (SCRN/WVOC) - A new monument unveiled at Columbia Metropolitan Airport honors 230 aviators who died in accidents when the airport was used as a training base for bomber pilots during World War II.
Ron Shelton, a volunteer researcher with the Friends of Columbia Army Air Base organization, told the South Carolina Radio Network he was shocked to learn how many pilots and crew had died.
“I had no idea that we would learn that there was this many casualties. And by the way, many...many airmen were injured as well and some with lifetime consequences,” Shelton notes.
He says the unique marker recognizes an overlooked part of state history when there were Army Air Corps bases in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Walterboro.
“South Carolina, and especially Columbia Air Base, was rapidly training combat crews to go directly from there to the war zones all throughout World War II.”
The new monument was funded by more than $15,000 in public and private donations raised by Columbia businessman William Jones, who says he learned of the historical significance of the site after spending time cleaning up the area.