“Dutch Wings Over Jackson” Documentary airs Thursday night

A short, ten-minute documentary I co-wrote and co-produced will air on Mississippi Public Broadcasting on Thursday, June 6, at 7pm CST.

Here’s the story:

On May 10, 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, driving its government into exile.  The Dutch military retreated to its holdings in the South Pacific, but were forced to retreat to Australia when the Imperial Japanese advanced against the East Indies in February of 1942.  Fearing yet another invasion and facing a shortage of war material, the air forces of the Dutch East Indies Army and the Dutch Navy began searching for a safe place to train their pilots.

They chose Jackson, Mississippi.

Hundreds of Dutch and Indonesian personnel and their families arrived in Jackson by train from San Francisco on the night of May 7, 1942.  They set up camp at the Jackson Army Airbase at Hawkins Field and were quickly welcomed by a curious public.  Speeches and parades followed, along with dozens of dances where some cadets and officers met their future Southern brides. Many of these widows and their descendants still reside in Mississippi today.

The Dutch fliers were patriots without a country, but for a time, Mississippi was their home. Unfortunately, many died in training accidents and were buried at Cedarlawn Cemetery in sacred earth designated as Dutch soil.  In 1943, a monument designed by one of the pilots was erected in honor of these brave men’s memory.

On February 8, 1944, the Dutch lowered their flag over Jackson and returned to the fight in Europe and the Pacific.  As the war waned, many Mississippi brides joined their Dutch husbands in far-flung corners of the earth.  Some witnessed the horrors of Japanese concentration camps in Java while others waded through Holland’s bombed-out rubble.  Little opportunity was left in the old world.  As the Japanese left Java, riots and revolution raged, slowly driving the Dutch from their Indonesian colonies.  Many of the pilots and their families returned to the United States.  Some made their way back to Jackson, and a few even trained new European pilots at Mississippi airbases.

Our short film focuses on our interviews with three Mississippi natives – widows of Dutch pilots who fought in the skies over Europe and the Pacific.  It’s a love story, and at times, a quite tragic one, but it illustrates how true love can withstand great distances in both space and time.

Tune in if you can, and I’ll post the link once the film appears on MPB’s website.

This is just the beginning.  We hope to eventually produce a full-length documentary with national distribution telling the whole story of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School and the great, enduring friendship between Jackson and the Dutch.

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This entry was posted in History.

9 comments on ““Dutch Wings Over Jackson” Documentary airs Thursday night

  1. This sounds fantastic, Will–can’t wait to see it. Please do post the link when it’s available!

  2. Hans Vles says:

    One more reason for our eternal gratitude to the American people for what you did for us during WWII.

  3. Will Morgan says:

    Thanks, Mr. Vles. We are very grateful for the sacrifice of our Dutch allies. It takes patient, courageous men to stay focused on training to fight when their families are at the mercy of their enemies. I really admire the pilots of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School.

    Here is the link to the documentary (and a short one on a related subject) if you haven’t already found it: http://mpbonline.org/dutchwings/

  4. sfkeepay says:

    As I seem to have arrived, unexpectedly, at the “end” of your captivating and rather distressingly circumscribed blog, may I extend sincere thanks for keeping me so effortlessly aloft through every word. Falling as I had to a flight and entering “Founding Fathers as Superheroes” into the infinite, ravenous maw ever perched upper right on my screen, I found this wonderful gem of a blog. More, please; much, much more.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey, thanks skeepay! Glad you like the blog and sorry it is so short! My writing energies are pulled all over the place – the novel, media reviews for a local magazine, even real work at the MS State Archives.

    Follow me on twitter @AllThingsScreen. I’m better at tweeting than blogging so far.

    You might also like to read my column in Parents&Kids Magazine: http://www.parents-kids.com/index.php/media-matters-v15-78. Unfortunately, in its current iteration, the mag’s website is difficult to navigate, but I do have 100+ reviews on there.

    As for THE FOUNDING FATHERS and the the “Founding Fathers as Superheros”, the work continues. I am currently laboring through like my 12th or 13th draft of the novel, but my editor likes where this one is going, so I think I may be nearing the finish line. Hopefully you’ll be able to pick it up on news stands or on AMAZON before The End of Days.

    Thanks for checking this out. Hope you can find more of my stuff online!

  6. Will Morgan says:

    That was me up there as “Anonymous”, sfkeepay. I guess that shows how often I blog! D’Oh!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am the daughter of a Dutch pilot who survived air battle with the Japanese and came to America, to Jackson, MS, in 1942 to teach fellow Dutchmen to fly. It was on his return to the Pacific in 1943 that he had an encounter that changed the direction of his life. I hope to be able to write this story soon.

  8. sfkeepay says:

    Mr. Morgan,

    Scanning my “must revisit” bookmarks and re-reading every word of this blog, I find undiminished its’ attentional gravity. I’m hoping the uninterruptible focus I have once again here expended can be attributed to something laudible, or at least respectable, in my character. I suspect, resignedly, that it is instead a mundane mind hazily recognizing great writing and hoping to plagiarize a phrase here and there, unrebuked by a largely untutored audience, a favorite sister and closest friends excepted.

    In any, and in every case, thank you for taking the time to respond, and please accept my sincere apology for my languid return. I won’t offer any excuse.

    I wait for Betsy and the boys, and some bolt of Doctor Franklin’s inspiration to shock citizens awake to your contributions.

    Thank you again and more please,
    Kaleb Howarth

  9. Will Morgan says:

    Thanks again, sfkeepay. Glad you are enjoying it and sorry that the blog hasn’t had any further posts. My time is eaten up between work, writing for P&K, and working on the novel. I am happy to tell you that the novel is coming along quite well. I hope to have my final draft finished by April, but I have a baby due between now and then, so we’ll see.

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