Late in the war, the U.S. achieved air superiority in each of the combat theaters. Although much fighting remained, actions were imbued with a degree of condence that was largely absent earlier in the war.  HANDSOME will die like all the other pilots in this sculpture, but that will not happen for several more missions. He is shown here with a casual posture, a cup of coffee and saddle oxford street shoes. He embodies the growing sense of condence that the allies will prevail.

On lower altitude missions, pilots commonly flew in standard street shoes of the day. For high altitude flights, where the outside temperature was bitterly cold and cockpit heaters were insufficient,  insulated over boots helped retain warmth.

The cup of coffee is used in the artwork to help convey his condence, but its presence is actually somewhat out of place at a mission brieng. “We hardly ever drank before a mission,” Arnold recalls. “The urinal systems in those days were primitive, at best. The last thing you’d want is to deal with peeing during a combat mission!”





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  1. As I viewed each sculptured panel, along with every comment, my emotions grew.
    I am recalling my late brother-in-law who died about two years ago(2018), during WWII, 2nd Lt. Lee, Durgeson, 19, a Korean-American. On his enlistment interview he was denied pilot training by the officer conducting it ‘as we don’t need your kind’. ” I knew all I want to do is fly” , he told me, and that the desk sergeant on hearing the comment for rejection afterwards secretly cut paper to have him accepted for flight school. I being a civilian engineer having worked at a Navy shipyard with a ROTC background and being around military my teen and adult years, I totally understood the environment as well as being a WWII history buff, related. I knowing that in every class, not everyone makes graduation, but those that do are pretty special even in war time, probably bonded us even more. Long story short, he ended up flying P-38’s. I took Durk out to the ‘Planes of Fame’ Museum to see the P-38 building and once to see the P-38 flying there, but most of all the massive 30+ low level fly by in the annual air show of nothing but piston engined WWII aircraft which I think stirred him as well as all of us.

    What prompted me to write this was something we talked about once, what do you do on long flights and you have to pee? I read this panel and laughed at the primitive comment here.

    Wonderful work your dad and you have done, I am sure the bond grew every minute over the years . Hopefully you have ‘carried on’ to keep him alive.

    • Ray — Thank you for sharing the story about Lee Durgeson. These were amazing people who stepped up during a troubling time that threatened the world. After combat, my father was assigned to the Office of Flying Safety and was assigned to investigate elevated accident rates among female pilots. He determined the underlying cause was the lack of a suitable inflight relief system and solved the problem by designing the original inflight urinal for female WASP aviators in 1943. Decades later, I authored “Death by Peeing: Inflight Urination Gone Wrong” and am leading an effort to develop an improved inflight relief system for female aviators in response to a call for solutions by the USAF. There have been 10 fatal crashes attributed to female inflight urination issues, so this is still a significant flight risk. All good wishes. — Marc

  2. Janice McCalman August 22, 2016 — 6:51 pm

    How beautiful, yet how heartbreaking are the sculptures. These men, like our military today, put their lives on the line for our freedom, and we never think how much emotional upheaval they suffer. Each sculpture reminds us that these young boys in WWII had to grow up fast. My dad was on one of the bombers protected by these fighter pilots. Seeing the finished works is now on my “bucket list”. Thanks for your inspiration and tribute.

    • Yes, this sculpture is intended to commemorate all our military… past, present and future. Putting on the uniform is a noble and selfless act taken in defense of all our freedoms. We are deeply in their debt. Marc Arnold

  3. Oh my God! The detail of these sculptures is incredible. I haven’t been to the museum yet, but will definitely go before it goes to the WW2 museum. The stories of each pilot tells a lot about the heroes that fought for us and our freedom. It definitely reminds us of your, and their, sacrifices. Thank you so much for your service. My mom had a cousin that was a waist gunner on a B17, and my dad had an uncle that volunteered for ammo ship duty in the Merchant Marines. My dad also fought in Korea, during that war, being too young to fight in WW2. Thank you again.

    • Dad and I visited the museum yesterday (Sunday) to check on the exhibit and we had the opportunity to visit with several people viewing the sculpture. It is amazing to see how many people have relatives they either knew, or knew of, that participated in WWII. It feels like Dad’s sculpture is serving as the proverbial “pebble in the pond” sending ripples outward. Thank you for your thoughts and good wishes.

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