Time Period: World War II through the Faubus Era (1941 - 1967) - Starting with B

B-17 Flying Fortress Explosion of 1943

On March 12, 1943, the nine-man crew of a B-17F Flying Fortress perished after one of the plane’s engines caught fire and exploded mid-air during a flight from Smoky Hill Air Field in Salina, Kansas, to Morrison Field in West Palm Beach, Florida. The plane crashed in a wooded area five miles northwest of Sheridan (Grant County). In 2015, the crash site became home to a memorial park honoring the nine airmen; it also honors Union and Confederate Civil War soldiers who fought in the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry, along with the soldiers from Grant County who have been killed in action since World War I. The nine-man crew consisted of Second Lieutenant George Davis of Dubuque, Iowa (pilot); Second Lt. Robert …

B-26 Bomber Crash of 1944

On the afternoon of January 20, 1944, a B-26 bomber with a total of eight crew members and passengers crashed in rural Ouachita County. There were no survivors. The Martin B-26 Marauder served as a twin-engine medium bomber in the U.S. Army Air Forces and other allied militaries during World War II. The aircraft first flew in late 1940 and entered military service the next year. On January 20, 1944, a B-26C aircraft departed from Hunter Field outside of Savannah, Georgia. The aircraft was part of the 598th Bombardment Squadron, a unit of the 397th Bombardment Group. Carrying six crew members and two passengers, the plane was on a training mission to Sheppard Field outside of Wichita Falls, Texas, with …

B-26A Bomber Crash of 1942

aka: Crash Site of AC 41-744
A B-26A bomber crashed two miles west of Pinnacle Mountain in Pulaski County on the night of September 2, 1942, killing all six members of the crew, including a veteran of the Doolittle bombing raid on Japan. The crash site was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on April 4, 2007. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other American targets, U.S. officials devised a plan to bring the war to Japan. On April 18, 1942, a flight of sixteen B-25 bombers led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb targets on the island of Honshu, hitting Tokyo, Yokosuka, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya. Fifteen of the planes …

B-47 Bomber Crash of 1960

On March 31, 1960, aircraft number 52-1414A was set to take off from the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) in Jacksonville (Pulaski County). This B-47E was part of the 384th Bombardment Wing, which was established at the LRAFB on August 1955. The aircraft was destined for Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. The typical B-47 crew consisted of three crew members: pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. However, this flight was carrying four crew members on the morning of March 31: Captain Herbert J. Aldridge (pilot, Air Force Reserve), First Lieutenant Thomas G. Smoak (co-pilot, Air Force Reserve), Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds S. Watson (navigator, Air Force Reserve), and Kenneth E. Brose (civil engineer, Regular Air Force.) With pre-flight checks complete, …

Babcock, Lucille (Lucy)

Lucille (Lucy) Babcock was a noted actress in theater and television who established the first community theater in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She also fostered the literary organizations her grandmother, writer Bernie Babcock, founded. Lucy Babcock was born Lucille Thornburg on September 30, 1921, to Frances Babcock Thornburg and John Thornburg. She had one sibling. While she was still an infant, her father deserted the family. Her grandmother had purchased Broadview, a wooded acreage that overlooked Little Rock, and the family moved into her barn-cum-house. At school, she was often in trouble for defending the underdog, recalling, “No one ever told me fighting was wrong.” Her circumstances and the area where she lived branded her as “white trash.” She attended …

Baby of Arts Degree

After World War II ended, large numbers of veterans were headed to college on the GI Bill, officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The GI Bill provided economic assistance to veterans so they could receive a college education or vocational training. Enrollment at colleges and universities had dropped dramatically during the war, as high school graduates put college education on hold for four or five years so they could serve in World War II. Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC), now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), had an enrollment of 764 students for the 1940–41 school year. But by the 1943–44 school year, enrollment had dropped to 289 students. After the war was over, the student enrollment …

Bacon, William Corinth

William Corinth Bacon was a decorated career U.S. Air Force officer who flew bombers in World War II and later led strategic bombing groups and nuclear missile wings during the Cold War. William Corinth Bacon was born on April 17, 1919, in Booneville (Logan County), the son of dentist William T. Bacon and Sallie Maxie Bacon. Growing up in Booneville, Bacon proved to be a promising athlete, but as war loomed in 1940 he turned down an opportunity to play baseball professionally—as well as an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York—to enlist in the U.S. Army as an air cadet. He trained at Kelly Field in Texas. Bacon married Doris Fox of San Antonio on …

Bailey, Marian Breland

Marian (Ruth Kruse) Breland Bailey was a pioneer in the field of animal behavior. Marian and her first husband, Keller Breland, were the first to use operant conditioning technology for commercial purposes. From their Hot Springs (Garland County) farm, the Brelands exported the new technology all over the world. Marian Ruth Kruse was born on December 2, 1920, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Christian and Harriet (Prime) Kruse. Christian Kruse owned an auto parts supply house. Harriet was a registered nurse. Marian had one brother, Donald. She was known as “Mouse” to her friends; Marian’s father was the first to call her “Maus,” a common German term of endearment for girls. Later, when Marian met her soon-to-be husband, Keller, he also …

Baker, Virgil Lyle

Virgil Lyle Baker was an author, playwright, director, and educator who served as a faculty member and department head in the Department of Speech and Dramatic Art at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He was instrumental in creating the drama program at UA. Virgil Baker was born in Prescott, Iowa, on August 18, 1896, into the farming family of James Baker and Ida Baker. He had a younger brother, Ralph L. Baker, and younger sister, Elsie M. Baker. Baker spent his childhood in various towns in Muskingum County, Ohio. He attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, graduating with a BA in 1922. Baker attended graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he …

Banks, Isadore (Murder of)

Isadore Banks, a fifty-nine-year-old prominent African-American landowner, disappeared on June 4, 1954. Banks’s wife, Alice, last saw him as he left the house with the intention of paying his farmhands. On or about June 8, 1954, Banks’s truck was discovered in a wooded property just outside of Marion (Crittenden County) by Carl Croom, a neighboring landowner. Banks’s loaded shotgun and coat were still inside. Authorities found Banks’s body tied to a tree, mutilated, and burned beyond recognition. Banks had been drenched with fuel and burned from the knees up. A can of gasoline was found close to the body. The coroner, T. H. McGough, found no sign of robbery or struggle at the scene, indicating that the killing may have …

Barnes, Jim “Bad News”

Velvet James (Jim) “Bad News” Barnes was an American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist originally from Tuckerman (Jackson County). Barnes enjoyed great success in his collegiate career, which later led him to be the first pick in the 1964 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. As a professional athlete, Barnes played for five different teams over seven seasons until an Achilles tendon injury largely forced his retirement. Regarding the nickname “Bad News,” Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach said he was so named “for the damage he did to opposing teams and players.” Jim Barnes was born on April 13, 1941, in Tuckerman. As a child, Barnes picked and chopped cotton and played basketball wearing socks, since his family was too …

Barnhill, John Henry “Barnie”

John Henry Barnhill was a successful head football coach both at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) but left the most lasting imprint in Fayetteville as UA’s athletic director. John Henry Barnhill was born on February 23, 1903, to James Monroe Barnhill and Margaret Alice Bryan in Savannah, Tennessee. His parents were farmers. Barnhill’s services were so greatly required on the family farm that they caused an interruption in his attending high school. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1923. He was nineteen when he enrolled at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in 1923. He transferred to the University of Tennessee in 1924 and excelled as a …

Barton, Loy

Loy Edgar Barton was a prolific pioneer in the field of radio and television engineering. He was awarded a number of U.S. patents and was responsible for significant technical inventions in radio and television technology. Loy Barton was born on November 7, 1897, to Henry Barton and Mary Frances Barton in Washington County, Arkansas, and spent his early life there. He displayed an early interest in machinery and the relatively new fields of electricity and “wireless” transmission, leading to his enrollment in the engineering program at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He received an undergraduate degree there and began teaching engineering courses at the school. During this period, Barton elected to pursue advanced engineering studies and, …

Barton, Thomas Harry

Colonel Thomas H. Barton, a pioneer El Dorado (Union County) oilman and philanthropist, launched his small Lion Oil Company into a major oil company that included exploration, production, marketing, distribution, refining, and research programs. Barton was born in Marlin, Texas, on September 20, 1881. His father, Thomas Killebrew Barton, was a merchant and farmer in Falls County. At age sixteen, he entered Texas A&M College, but limited funds forced him to leave school early in his second year. He entered the U.S. Army in 1901 and was discharged in 1904 with the rank of corporal. From 1905 to 1917, he worked in a variety of occupations that included banking and lumber in Dallas County. In 1906, he was commissioned with …

Bass, Raymond Henry

Raymond Henry Bass was an Olympic gold medalist, Gymnastics Hall of Fame honoree, and decorated World War II hero who rose to the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Raymond Henry Bass was born on January 15, 1910, in Chambersville (Calhoun County) to Henry L. Bass and Maude Wise Bass. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927 and was recruited for the gymnastics team. He was coached by Lou Mang, who had developed an innovative rope-climbing technique stressing rhythm and balance. According to an Olympics biography of Bass, he was a boxer and wrestler at the Naval Academy before joining the gymnastics team and was nicknamed “Benny” by his classmates due to a resemblance …

Bates, Daisy Lee Gatson

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, the African American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. She and the Little Rock Nine gained national and international recognition for their courage and persistence during the desegregation of Central High when Governor Orval Faubus ordered members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the entry of black students. She and her husband, Lucious Christopher (L. C.) Bates, published the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper dealing primarily with civil rights and other issues in the black community. The identity of Daisy Gatson’s birth parents has not been conclusively established. Before the age of seven, she was taken in as a foster child by …

Bates, Lucious Christopher

Lucious Christopher Bates was the founder of the Arkansas State Press newspaper. Under his direction, the State Press, published in Little Rock (Pulaski County), waged a weekly statewide battle against the constraints of the Jim Crow era of segregation until the paper’s demise in 1959. Bates was a member of the executive committee of the Little Rock chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and, along with his wife Daisy, helped lead the fight that resulted in the admittance of the first nine black students to Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. Born in Liberty, Mississippi, in 1904, L. C. Bates was the only child of Laura and Morris Bates, a farmer, carpenter and …