National Museum of World War II Aviation — Colorado Springs

Happy 104th Birthday WWII Vet Dr. Monica Agnew-Kinnaman

Last Saturday (February 12), I met an amazing woman — a woman who proved to be very much akin to the WAFS and WASP of World War II, Dr. Monica Agnew-Kinnaman. She’s known to her friends as Nikki and, like the WAFS and WASP, she is a veteran of WWII. “Nikki” turned 104 on February 12. The National Museum of World War II Aviation, located here in Colorado Springs threw her a surprise birthday party!

At age twenty-one, she served in the British Royal Artillery during the Battle of Britain — July-September 1940. Nikki and the other women who served in the anti-aircraft gun crews worked as spotters, tracking incoming German aircraft, and as artillery analysts. Dr. Agnew-Kinnaman (she later earned a PhD in psychology) first volunteered as a nurse. Feeling she wasn’t doing enough, she joined the British Army and rose to the rank of captain.

Sarah with “Dr. Monica” at her 104th birthday party.

WHERE TO POINT AND WHERE TO AIM

These women volunteers didn’t actually fire the guns, says Gene Pfeiffer, historian and museum curator. As the German planes came in over London, the women did the calculations determining where to point and aim the guns.

She was a Brit back then, but Nikki now lives here in Colorado Springs. A life-long dog-lover, one who has rescued many dogs in her lifetime, she’s written several books about those rescue dogs.

The museum also honored six other local WWII veterans at the party. All men, they served in the various branches of America’s military. Nikki and “the guys” all told stories of their service, much to the delight of the crowd on hand to honor them all and celebrate with her.

I WISH WASP MILLIE YOUNG COULD HAVE BEEN THERE

All I can say is, I wish my good friend Millie Peterson Young — a WASP in World War II and a long-time Colorado Springs resident — had lived to be part of this. Had she still been with us, she would have been there. The volunteers at the museum knew her. Sadly, we lost Millie in January 2019. And —FYI— had she lived, Millie would be turning 100 this coming December 22.

WASP Millie Young talks with Sarah’s grandson, Daniel, at Women in Aviation, Reno, 2018.

A big thank you to my friend and neighbor, Robbie Dale Nelson, who invited me to accompany her and attend this delightful function at the museum. Robbie Dale also took the photo of me with Nikki that you see above.

An outstanding day for the museum … and for Colorado Springs!

The National Museum of World War II Aviation, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, opened to the public in 2012. The museum documents the role that military aviation played in the emergence of our nation as a world power. The museum tells the story of the tremendous technological advancements in aviation during the War and the contributions and sacrifices of the men and women who won the air war.

MODERN EXHIBIT GALLERIES, WORLD-CLASS AIRCRAFT RESTORATION

Located on a 21-acre campus at the Colorado Springs Airport, the museum features modern exhibit galleries, aircraft display, hangars and workshops and offers guided tours of a world-class aircraft restoration.

The focal point of the experience, though, is the museum’s incredible collection of World War II aircraft.  The collection includes several extremely rare examples, some with documented combat history.  Most of these aircraft are meticulously restored to flying condition and are flown at air shows and on demonstration days at the museum.

I’m proud to say , this was my third visit — but the first to the “new” museum building. I took a tour with a group of friends pre-Covid and I also accompanied my grandson, Daniel, and his class on a visit before that. I expect to return for another visit soon! And, I’m hoping the museum store will soon be carrying my books!

HERE’S THE MUSEUM’S WEBSITE: www.worldwariiaviation.org

The Museum has been officially recognized by Congress as America’s National WWII Aviation Museum. Signed into law as part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the designation acknowledges the museum’s historical significance and its standing among the elite museums that are dedicated to preserving our nation’s rich aviation heritage.

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Thank you for reading my blog and Taking Flight, my newsletter … and for reading my books about the WASP. 

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