World War II: The Air War

Registration is open:


The Virginia War Memorial and the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield have partnered to bring you an all-day event on the Air War during World War II.

Historians, archivists, and veterans from around the country will share stories of the struggle for freedom around the world.

Learn about the planes, their crews, and those who kept them flying onward to victory during the Second World War. Attend one or two sessions, or tune in for the entire event – the choice is yours!

Event Schedule:

9:00 – 9:25am
Voices of the Air War
Presented by Jim Triesler, Director of Education, Virginia War Memorial

Jim Triesler, Director of Education at the Virginia War Memorial, will share quotes from veteran interviews and passages from original letters which describe the World War II Air War in their own words.

9:30 – 9:55am
From the Virginia War Memorial Archives: Air War
Presented by Heidi Sheldon, Archivist, Virginia War Memorial

Join Virginia War Memorial archivist Heidi Sheldon for a close look at World War II-era Air Force-related materials from the European, Pacific, and CBI Theaters, and hear stories of those who served.

10:00 – 10:50am
“Some Lived, Some Died”: The Eighth Air Force and Strategic Daylight Bombing in the European Theater of Operations, 1942-1945
Presented by Dr. Phil Samponaro, Professor of History, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

This talk provides an overview of the Eighth Air Force, which conducted strategic bombing of enemy targets and fighter combat against hostile aircraft in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II. The presentation highlights strategies and missions that defined the “Mighty Eighth” from its inception stateside in 1942 through the collapse of Nazi Germany in May 1945. The talk will conclude with a look at how veterans, their families, Europeans, and others have created a lasting legacy over the decades for the largest combat air armada ever deployed, one whose 26,000+ dead gave the Eighth Air Force a casualty rate unmatched by any other US military organization during the war.

11:00 – 11:25am
Interview with a WWII Veteran
Join us as we speak with a World War II Veteran about their service and the Air War.

11:30 – 12:20pm
‘Give me Courage and Luck’: U.S. Navy Pilots at the Battle of Midway
Presented by Laura Lawfer Orr, Director of Education, Hampton Roads Naval Museum and Dr. Timothy Orr, Associate Professor of History, Old Dominion University

The Battle of Midway was won by the U.S. Navy’s aviators. In this presentation, Dr. Timothy Orr and Laura Lawfer Orr explore the world of the American pilots who served at this turning point in the Pacific War.

12:30 – 1:20pm
Tale of the Red Tails: Double Victory and Beyond
Presented by Howard and Richard Baugh, Howard L. Baugh Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

The sons of an original Tuskegee Airmen will remind viewers of who the Tuskegee Airmen were, and their contributions to the Allied air victory in World War II. They will also show how their “Outstanding Combat Record Inspired Revolutionary Reform in the Armed Forces” and helped change our nation.

1:30 – 1:55pm
Interview with a WWII Veteran
Join us as we speak with a World War II Veteran about their service and the Air War.

2:00 – 2:50pm
For You the War is Over: Prisoners of War
Presented by Heather Theis, Director of Education and Volunteers, National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force

These were often the first words a downed airman heard when captured. Learn more about the Prisoner of War experience for the 8th Air Force, as well as other airmen in the European Theater of War. This presentation will use personal stories and artifacts from the collection of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force.

3:00 – 3:50pm
Up, Up, and Away: How World War II Contributed to a Soaring Post-War Commercial Aviation Industry
Presented by Maggie Hartley, Associate Director of Public Engagement, National WWII Museum

During the early 20th century, the World Wars accelerated the onset of aviation as a form of transportation and solidified its usefulness in warfare. However, after World War II, military technological advancements would revolutionize commercial aviation through infrastructure development, aircraft, and even a ready supply of trained pilots. More importantly, by the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of service members were comfortable with flying as a means of transportation instead of taking land or sea routes.

All of the Virginia War Memorial’s livestreams are free and open to the public, though registration is required. Register early, as there is limited space to listen live.

Previously broadcast and recorded programs are available at

Contact Assistant Director of Education Morgan Guyer ( with any questions or issues with registration.