Portland Air Base's First Flag Day, 1941

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Terrence G. Popravak, Jr. (Retired)
  • 142nd Wing / History Office

It was 80 years ago in the spring of 1941 that officials moving onto then under-construction Portland Army Air Base (PAAB) discovered that a key item of the base infrastructure was apparently overlooked in the construction directive for the base - there was no flagpole. 

With the help of local newspapers, the public became aware of the shortfall and several offers of provision were received at the base.  The offer finally accepted came from the US Forest Service and they transported a 110-foot tree from the Mt. Hood area.  The tree was treated, turned and emplaced as the base flag pole in time for use on Flag Day, June 14, 1941.

On Flag Day, Saturday, June 14, 1941, some 1,500 officers, enlisted men and civilians assembled for the first flag raising ceremony at PAAB.  It was the first official ceremony held at the base and also served as a dedication ceremony for the new army air base. 

Major General William G. Everson (Retired), President of Linfield College from 1939 to 1943, was the speaker for the occasion.  Maj. Gen. Everson, who was a volunteer in the Spanish-American War, World War I veteran and former Adjutant General of Indiana, was also a former Chief of the National Guard Bureau from 1 Oct 1929 to 30 Nov 1931.  Known as "the Flying Parson," one of the first Army generals to regularly fly as an observer on aircraft training missions, he continued serving in the military until reaching mandatory retirement age in 1945.

As the flag was raised to the top of the pole for the first time on PAAB a three-gun salute was fired.  A fitting Flag Day indeed!