Many of the World War II era military planes were either left overseas once the fighting ended or were chopped up for their metal. A few of those planes and memories are preserved by an organization known as the Commemorative Air Force, which was formed in 1961 to protect and save many of the aircraft that were being destroyed.
The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force was formed in 1980 at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield and later moved to Smartt Field in St. Charles County. Pat Kesler, who served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot, is the Wing Leader at Smartt Field, which houses a museum filled with World War II memorabilia.
The artifacts are only part of what is on display. Also on display are three World War II era aircraft. None of the three saw combat during World War II, and that’s probably one of the reasons they’re still around. Kesler says many of the aircraft used in combat were discarded after the War.
There is another wing of the Commemorative Air Force in Missouri – the Ozark Mountain Squadron in Springfield.