During the early days of WWII, the Route 66 community of Miami welcomed over 2000 British Cadets as part of a training program to prepare pilots for combat over their homeland of England.
While most of these young cadets returned home to intense fighting and a country already ravaged by war, there were a few that never made it back home to their native soil. They were tragically killed while training in the states and have been forever laid to rest along Route 66 in the community of Miami, Oklahoma.
Laying these young men to rest on foreign soil attracted the attention of a local, Francis Mae Hill, who would over the next 40 years provide both flowers and prayers for these young men. Mrs. Hill knew the family members would not be able to visit their loved ones, so she voluntarily tended to their graves and promised family members back home that they would not be forgotten. She often considered the young men her boys, and her last wish was to be buried alongside her boys. King George VI would later award Mrs. Hill The King’s Award for Service.
Join host Anthony Arno as he talks with Nancy Bro, office manager at the GAR Cemetery in Miami, OK, about the life of these cadets and other notables buried in Miami. Highlights of the conversation include:
GAR SHOW NOTES
- Origin and network of GAR Cemeteries
- Cemetery Tourism as an upcoming industry
- The US agrees to a proposed program to train British in the US
- The Spartan Flying School
- Keeping the operation top secret in the early days
- A sudden influx of British men with funny accents gathering in Miami- what’s going on?
- How a Route 66 community welcomes 2000 men with open arms
- British adjusting to American life while the war is raging back home
- The final count laid to rest: 15 Cadets and a local woman
- Kenneth Raisbeck: recreating the final flight of for the 70 year old son who he never met
- Annual Remembrance Ceremonies at GAR
- Origin of fatal accidents
- Col Gale Halverson
- The Candy Bomber
- Frantie “Francis” Mae Hill
- Mother of the boys buried in Oklahoma
- Why should we care for British soldiers laid to rest in the US?
- Honoring the British war dead in the states – justification and reasoning
- Everlasting relationships cadets formed with locals
- Local museums honoring the RAF cadets
- Dobson Museum
- NE OK College, Oklahoma
- Other notables buried at GAR Cemetery
- Richard Kelton
- George Coleman
- Elvin and Lovell Mantle
- John Beaver
- Atha Cardin
- Charles Banks Wilson
- William Campbell
- Booger Red
LOCAL DOCUMENTARY ON RAF CADETS
Web Page: Kenneth Raisbeck Story and Flight
JOHN RAISBECK VISITS MIAMI
75TH ANNIVERSARY OF FATHER’S FATAL ACCIDENT
THE CANDY BOMBER
Colonel Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
CHARLES BANKS WILSON
Documentary (Notable artist buried at GAR Cemetery)
(Hosted by Anthony Arno)
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Please consider supporting both The Route 66 Podcast and Scholarship Program through Patreon. Patreon members receive access to an additional 10 minutes of this episode, featuring the following content:
- Miami City takes over GAR Cemetery
- Miami Municipal Airport
- Bugles across America
- Additional fatalities at other Spartan Flying School locations
- Logistics for visiting the GAR Cemetery
- Personal Background for Nancy
- Child Remembrance Ceremony