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Millville Army Air Field: America’s First Defense Airport (Images of Aviation)

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Millville had always been known for its glassmaking, but with the outbreak of World War II, the community’s identity was primed to change forever. A private civilian airfield gave way to the creation of America’s first defense airport, the training ground for the U.S. Army’s Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt pilots. Bright and brave young men from across the country converged on Millville in the early 1940s to learn to fly and fight for freedom. Some died in training; others flew into history as heroes. While in Millville, they lived the average lives of the country’s military men, playing baseball, flirting with the girls at the local USO dances, and attending Sunday night dinners with local families, creating lifelong friendships in a time when a young man’s life expectancy was in the hands of America’s enemies.