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March 24, 2003

 

 

Gunter Annex Names Library 
After Medal of Honor Recipient

erwin_painting.jpg (2809415 bytes)
Betty Erwin, widow of World War II Medal of Honor recipient Henry ‘Red’ Erwin, admires her husband’s portrait at the newly named Henry ‘Red’ Erwin Library on Gunter Annex March 19. Mrs. Erwin is holding her grandson, David. (U.S. Air Force photo by Melanie Rodgers)

By Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AETCNS) -- The library at Gunter Annex here was officially named after World War II Medal of Honor recipient Henry “Red” Erwin during a ceremony March 19.

Erwin family members, friends and Leeds, Ala., city officials joined Air Force officials at the ceremony to honor the war hero. Mr. Erwin, who lived in Leeds, died in January 2001.

“Today we memorialize this building to a great American patriot: Henry ‘Red’ Erwin,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Hamel, Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute director and master of ceremony for the event. “I’m sure he is smiling down on us at this very moment.”

Then Staff Sergeant Erwin was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic acts during a mission in the skies over Japan April 12, 1945. Suffering from severe burns and blindness caused by a phosphoresce bomb, the Army Air Corps sergeant saved his B-29 aircraft and crew by carrying the burning bomb to a window and throwing it out of the plane.

“This is an exciting moment for me,” said Mr. Erwin’s widow, Betty Erwin. “Red knew about this honor in his name before he died and he was so flattered by it.”

Mr. Erwin’s son, Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin, said it was an honor to be present on such a special day and that his dad loved the Air Force, the country and the American people.

“I’m mighty proud and humbled that the Air Force would do this for my dad,” he said. “This is a tribute to a great man and a legacy to the great institution called the United States Air Force.”

For more than 28 years, Mr. Erwin had close ties to the College for Professional Military Education and the Air Force Senior NCO Academy here. Mr. Erwin frequently spoke to students about his war experiences and was an avid supporter of the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall museum and education center.

The Henry “Red” Erwin Library is a 21,000-square-foot facility used by the Maxwell and Gunter communities and Senior NCO Academy and Gunter NCO Academy students.

 
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