History of St. Louis Aviation
(With a Photographic History of the 131st Fighter Wing)
By Wilbur Tackaberry, CMS USAF Ret.
Edited and Digitized by Scott K. Williams
[Photo: Will Tackaberry (left) with the MoANG official mascot, "Banjo". President Harry S. Truman, amused by the moment, grins from the review stand.]
This book is a collection of photos and articles compiled by Will Tackaberry during his long career in the Missouri Air National Guard. It is based upon a series of Tackaberry's articles that were printed in the Florissant Valley Reporter in 1971. Today in 2004, Tackaberry re-publishes his work for the purpose of educating the public using a more widespread medium, the internet. In addition, he shares his immense photo collection, compiled during his 30+ with the Missouri Air National Guard. It is our intention for this to be a tribute to all the members of the Missouri Air National Guard, past and present.
--S. Williams, Editor
Brief Biography of the Author
Will "Tack" Tackaberry was born in 1930 at Ottawa, Illinois. Soon afterwards, in 1935, the Tackaberry family moved to the City of Litchfield, Illinois. He attended schools in Litchfield, graduating from Litchfield High School and entered the US Navy in April of 1948. During this time he served for five years in Naval Aviation, where he was a combat air crewman with an anti submarine Squadron of Grumman AF-2s Aircraft. He operated radar and flew off carriers in the North Atlantic during the Korean War.
In 1953 Tackaberry was honorably discharged from the Navy. He then joined the Missouri Air National Guard (MoANG) in 1954, where he remained as a full time technician with the Guard till 1986 retiring with 37 years of service. During his MoANG career he was assigned to the Munitions Maintenance Section. He retired as a Chief Master Sgt rank.
He then attended several military schools which consisted of weapons and munitions, Special Weapons, Missiles, and a variety of missiles, and munitions items while in the Air Guard. Tackaberry also completed courses in Disaster Preparedness and Shelter management. He was assigned as the public affairs technician of the squadron, where he wrote several articles for St. Louis newspapers on the history of aviation and the Guard in Missouri. In addition, Tackaberry was very active in community activities with the City of Florissant, where he resided and served on the City council.
While in the Air Guard Tackaberry served in several overseas countries including a year in France during the Berlin Crisis in 1961 and 1962. Over his long military career, he earned several ribbons and commendations in both the Navy and the Air Guard. He was selected Airman of the Year, and a recipient of the St Louis Globe Democrat Reservist of the year award. He also assisted with the writing of the 50th anniversary book of the Missouri Air Guard ("The Show Me Spirit, A 50 Year History of the Missouri Air National Guard 1923-1973"), and was the author on some other books pertaining to celebrations and history manuals for the Guard. (Photo: Will Tackaberry assisting Cindy Schlueter (Queen of Florissant Valley of Flowers Festival; and Mrs. Betty Roberston Uhl as they prepare to attend the dedication ceremony of a new building at Robertson Airbase, named after her brother, Maj. William Robertson).
After retirement in 1986 Tackaberry became the owner of a Video Production business in Litchfield Illinois, where he made video training tapes and year end reports for various companies. Several years later he was elected Commander of the local American Legion Post, a position he held for over six years. Other public service activities include being a volunteer for the county illiteracy program and assisting young and older adults in reading and preparing them for GED testing. Because of his devotion to service, Tackaberry received several awards including Veiled Non Profit, Citizen of the year. He also was appointed Parade Marshal for the 150 year celebration of the City of Litchfield in 2003.
Currently (2004) Tackaberry is serving on two boards in the Litchfield community. One is for assisting young people who are having problems in school .. the program is called M.A.K.I.T., the other board is Project Life , helping seniors. He has been a member of the Veterans of Foreign War for over 50 years and a member of the American Legion for fifteen years. He is also on an advisory committee to a Congressman on Veterans affairs.
Will Tackaberry and his wife, Cynthia reside in Litchfield. They have six children: Carolyn, Markos, William, Jackie, Victoria, and Robert. In addition, he has two step-children: Julie Mathews and Daniel Raines.
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