IRON MOUNTAIN - "The CG-4A Cargo Glider as Built by the Ford Motor Company, Iron Mountain, Michigan" is the title of a new DVD now featured in the World War II Glider and Military Museum's audio-visual presentation room.
Guy Forstrom, local avid Ford history buff and trustee of the Menominee Range Historical Foundation, compiled the DVD over the past year, utilizing authentic film footage from the National Archives, the Ford Archives, photographs from the Menominee Range Historical Museum collection and from his personal collection.
"Guy Forstrom's extensive research, compilation and production of this DVD will help current residents and future generations to gain a better understanding of the outstanding contribution to the war effort made by the local Ford Motor Company employees," said local historian and Foundation vice president Bill Cummings.
During World War II, the Ford Motor Company’s plant in Kingsford was converted to glider production. Ford produced 4,190 CG-4A (C – cargo; G – glider) gliders between December, 1942 and August, 1945. Mark Swanson, foreman of the afternoon shift at the Kingsford plant, recalled that at first two or three gliders were produced daily, but when they went into 24-hour production, eight gliders could be manufactured. About 4,500 employees worked three shifts around the clock
"Many younger members of the community and newer residents are unaware of this significant part of our heritage," Cummings added. "This DVD will help us all remember with pride the accomplishments of these men and women during World War II on the home front, as we watch them in action in historic film footage."
The 30-minute DVD features a segment of contemporary narrated film footage showing the gliders in production at the Ford Plant, outlining the steps used in producing the CG-4A Cargo Glider. Other portions combine contemporary film footage and photographs to further illustrate the local history of glider production between December, 1942, and August, 1945.
The video is available for purchase at the gift shop in the Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum for $10.
In addition, detailed contemporary film footage the Army-Navy "E" Award presentation which occurred on June 21, 1944 at the Ford Plant in Kingsford is included. The "E" stood for "excellence in production of war equipment."
A crowd estimated at 5,000 observed the ceremony.
Fortunately, a Ford Motor Company film crew recorded the ceremony for posterity. Forstrom's recent discovery and digitization of this footage now enables viewers to relive this historic event.
Henry Ford II, oldest grandson of Henry Ford, then managing the Ford Motor Company and later serving as the firm's president from 1945-1960, accepted the award from military officials gathered for the event.
Ford and the other officials flew into the Ford Airport from Dearborn, earlier in the day. Following a tour of the plant, Ford and his party enjoyed a luncheon at the Pine Grove Country Club.
Returning to the Ford plant, the guests took their places on the platform, decorated and flanked by two gliders, in the area near the main gate, within the plant, for the presentation ceremony which began at 3 p.m. Major Harvey Humphrey, public relations officer for the Army's materiel command of the Detroit area, was in charge of the ceremony.
At 6:30 p.m., the Ford officials and Army-Navy personnel were guests at a dinner given in the auditorium (city council chamber) of the Kingsford village building, now Kingsford City Hall.
Henry Ford II's comments during his acceptance of the award noted the role of the gliders produced locally in the D-Day invasion of France which had occurred just two weeks earlier. The 70th anniversary of this invasion was just celebrated by the nation on June 6.
During the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), a Navy E Award was initiated to commend superior naval service. Later awards continued in World War I and by the beginning of World War II there were the Navy E, the Army A and the Army-Navy Star awards.
The Army-Navy "E" Award came into existence in July 1942 when the Navy E and Army-Navy Munitions Board Award were merged.
All factories and contractors engaged in war production were eligible to receive the award, as were government organizations.
Also known as the Army-Navy Production Award, a company was awarded a pennant for the plant to fly on a flagpole and pins were presented to all employees in the plant at the time the award was made to recognize and honor excellence in production of war equipment. Usually an Army officer and a Navy officer would be present at a ceremony when a company would assemble all the employees and a ceremony would ensue.
A total of 4,283 companies received the award in the course of the war. This amounted to about 4 per cent of the companies engaged in war work.
Plants that maintained an outstanding record of performance for six months after receiving their original Army-Navy "E" Award were granted a white star which was added to the pennant. The Ford Plant in Kingsford added two white stars to their pennant before the end of the war. A handful of plants earned up to six stars by the end of the war. The Army-Navy "E" Award program was terminated on Dec. 5, 1945.
The Menominee Range Historical Foundation's three museums are now open for the season. The Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum and the World War II Glider and Military Museum are open daily, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The Menominee Range Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Additional information is available on the website at menomineerangehistoricalfoundation.org.