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Buzzed by a B-36


In 1951, President Truman issued a proclamation declaring this date to be the second annual Armed Forces Day. As American soldiers fought in Korea, so soon after the end of World War II, Truman encouraged a celebration of those men and women who "dedicated themselves unselfishly to the service of their country."

Citizens were asked to display the United States flag and to "demonstrate their recognition of the gallantry, sacrifice, and devotion to duty of the men and women of the armed forces."

Various programs were developed in states across the country. In Bismarck, residents experienced the thrill of "the distinctive, bull-throated roar of a B-36 Air Force bomber" as it buzzed overhead. The B-36 was designed during World War II, and the first plane took its maiden flight in 1946. The planes were large, equipped with six 28-cylinder engines, and cruised at around 230 miles per hour, with a top speed of 435 miles per hour.

B-36s were set to fly around the country for Armed Forces Day. Eight planes participated, each taking a different part of the country. They would visit all of the capitals in all of the states, plus some larger cities and military bases. Altogether, the bombers were scheduled for approximately 250 stops.

The plane on the mainly northern Great Plains circuit had Bismarck as its final destination. It was set to start its voyage at 7 AM in Pierre, South Dakota before heading to Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and finally North Dakota.

However, the B-36 wasn't the only plane to appear in Bismarck. The city also expected a flight of F-31 Mustangs from the 175th Fighter Squadron in Sioux Falls – with four planes landing at the Bismarck airport for display. The planes capped off the Armed Forces Week programs that celebrated the job of the nation's soldiers.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker




The Bismarck Tribune, Friday, May 18, 1951