On the evening of October 22, I went to the final fundraiser of the year at the Dakota Territory Air Museum. As I was talking to this ‘Army Air Corps bomber pilot’ (who looked a lot like Ike Eisenhower, I thought), someone asked if they could take our photograph.
Because the costume for the evening was the Golden Age of Aviation, I was of course dressed out as the pioneer aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman to solo the Atlantic from East to West- (what is known as the hard way). Departing from Abington, England, and eventually landing in North America at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her trip ended early due to a frozen fuel line. She had been flying during the night into 40 mph headwinds of heavy weather & made a forced landing into a peat bog with her Vega Gull aircraft. The year of her historic flight was 1936. She was later to author a book, West with the Night.
Now for the rest of the story: The ‘bomber pilot’ turned out to be none other than the Minot Air Force Base’s Chaplain, Buddy Walker! In speaking to him I mentioned to him that my father, 1st Lt. Lonnie Tompkins, had been a Command Pilot of a B-17G during World War 2 in the European Theatre of Operations, stationed at Tunis, on the African continent and later in Ammendola, Italy. Sometime after the war, he became a construction supervisor for Halvorson Construction and built a B-52 hangar and the MAFB Chapel with the revolving altar.
I was delighted to learn that Chaplain Walker not only was the Chaplain at that very same Chapel but that he had cared enough about it to have it restored!
Meeting Chaplain Buddy Walker was the highlight of the evening for me. He is someone everyone should meet and a splendid ambassador for the U.S. Air Force!
He cares about the history of our Air Force and takes care of its future through his ministry.
Well done Chaplain Walker!
The Dakota Territory Air Museum is now closed for the year, with the re-opening set for May of 2023. The Dakota Territory Air Museum event, “A Night At The Museum,” raised over $6,000.00 for the museum.
Cory Thompkins-Eliason is not only a local treasure but a dear family friend of our publisher Ted Bolton, who hopes to have her contribute more columns to this publication in the future.