Historic Hempstead Plains - Nassau County, Long Island

Mitchel Field - Paul Martin's pictures from the 1970's

"Airman's Heaven"

The pictures you are about to see are from Paul Martin's collection. Paul is a noted Civil War lecturer and Artist. His work is on display at his web site at www.skyboom.com/pmartin and also on exhibit at Gettysburg sponsored by the National Park Service at the Cyclorama Visitors Center Gallery. The exhibit will remain on display until November 19.

Artists have a way of transcending the limitations of the camera, even with all the new digital photo technology. Take a look at his site it is worth the visit. Paul has expressed an interest in turning his artistic efforts towards Mitchel Field. Hopefully, he will find the time to do so. I look forward to seeing his work in this regard.

Paul, like myself, is a graduate of a
Wonderful Hempstead Plains College (WHPC) called Nassau Community College. He took some of these photos prior to attending college there. By the way, Nassau Community College's radio station WHPC (90.3) is now my favorite radio station. They have an incredible range of shows, including music to study Mitchel Field by i.e. big band, swing and 50s.

And now here are Paul's photos from the NCO quarters. The pictures show airmen sitting on clouds while Angels bring them a beer. Definitely sounds like heaven to me. They are disturbing in the sense that we have lost much in the way of the art and history of this formerly great base. In only twelve years time you can see the deterioration wrought by the exposure to the elements. The building is now sealed, but the damage is done.

NOTE: If you know who the artist was and or have photos of the mural in better shape, we would be grateful to have the information. Thanks.
This is Paul's description of the photographs and the locations.

Both murals were in the NCO Quarters. The angels and airman were in the main
room on the ground floor directly behind the main entrance. The section, I
sent you is a small part of a large mural that spreads across several walls
and corners, interrupted only by windows. It was a huge room almost like a
ballroom. I have some overviews as well as closeups. Though as you can see
it was very deteriorated when I took the photos ( around 73) I call this
mural "Airman's Heaven".

The b-24 (photo on the right above and over the mantle below) was upstairs on the second floor in a smaller room but directly above the other room. The pictures below are of the same main room from two sides. In the photos below the one on the right has the arched doorway in the foreground, in the photo on the left it is to the right in the background.

Paul Martin's letter

last of the NCO photo files
Mon, 04 Sep 2000 00:27:55 EDT
"Paul Martin" <

Dear Vince

The page looks great! I am so excited to be able to share these photos with
you and the rest of the world through your great website. Thank you!

You might want to pose the question on the page to your visitors if any of
the vets who served there might remember the mural and might know who painted
it. I looked for a signature at the time but never found one. It was either
never signed or the signature was worn off like so many other details were
lost to the elements. Somebody might even have some pictures of the mural
from its heyday. Wouldn't that be great to find.

I can't help think about how the mural must have been painted to honor and
commemorate the hundreds of Army Air Corps flyers who probably passed
through Mitchel on their way to the European theater and who were then
Killed in action. It obviously dates from the W.W.II period. Now those men,
the mural and the artist who painted it are lost to us forever. Very sad.

I think I told you that I always felt that this room was a ballroom. When I
used to visit it (which was many times.) I could almost hear the strains of
Glen Miller whispering across the years, and feel the presence of lost
airman dancing across the shadows, beckoning to me to never forget them, to
never forget what they did. It was a very eerie feeling but very intense and
very poignant. Mitchel Field to me always embodied that Spirit of American
Youth who suffered and sacrificed to "Save the World". May we never forget.

Anyway, I am waxing poetic.

Here are the last photos from the NCO series. There are a few others but I
chose the best ones and many of the others tend to be repetitive. If you
can post these last ones on the page I think it will be complete. these
photos were not all taken at the same time but they span the years of 1973
through 1975.

The top photo in the triptych of the exterior rearview shows the outside
wall of the rooms where the murals were. You can see the matching windows
and the 'notch" on the North wall where the airman and angels section was.
You can also see how the open windows allowed the elements to so terribly
destroy the painting. So sad.

Well I look forward to seeing these included on the page and can't wait to
preview it and then give you the go ahead to put it up. I'm anxious to hear
other peoples reactions to it.

Tomorrow I will start scanning in some photos of other parts of the base.
You ain't seen nothin yet. ( no you really have. The NCO series might
actually be the best.)

Thanks again.


 Photos are property of Paul Martin. My thanks to him for sharing them.


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