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Tool kit finds home at structural apprentice school

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Munn
  • 366th Training Squadron, Det. 6
Retired Maj. Wayne Kuschel paid $46 for an old carpenter's tool kit some 60 years ago, a reminder to him of a friend who was killed in a 1947 crash of an XC-97 Stratofreighter.

Now, Airmen who walk the halls of the 366th Training Squadron Det. 6's Air force Structural Apprentice course at Naval Construction Training Center, Gulfport, Miss., will learn the story - and fate - of Maj. Edward Theodore Dunn, once the owner of the kit.

Major Kuschel donated the tool kit to Lt. Col. Matthew Bobb, commander of the 366th TRS, Jan. 16.

The story of the tool kit in and of itself is insignificant. But the story of its owner is one of service to country, family and the Air Force - even to death.

While flying 50 bomber missions in B-17's and B-24's during World War II, Major Dunn wasn't thinking about his carpenter's tool kit back at home in the garage. Instead he was thinking about his job as a pilot and the commitment to his country as military service member in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Major Dunn was stationed at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he flew a variety of aircraft including the fateful prototype XC-97 Stratofreighter that crashed in 1947 during a test flight. Although he didn't survive the crash, his valiant efforts as the co-pilot to land the plane enabled two of the seven crew members to get out before the plane exploded into flames.

Major Dunn left behind a wife that was proud of her husband's service to his country, and wanting to share the same pride with everyone else she sent out some of her husband's belongings to people around the U.S. Army Air Corps.

One of those people was retired Major Kuschel, of Henrietta, Texas, who flew with Major Dunn on many occasions. Major Kuschel visited Mrs. Dunn a few days after the tragic crash and asked what she planned to do with the carpenter's tool kit out in the garage. She said to sell it for $46, so the major bought the tool box from her and has held onto it for over 60 years.

After all of these years Major Kuschel decided to donate the carpenter's tool kit to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Personnel at Sheppard felt that because it was a carpenter's tool kit, the best place for it to be displayed at the dormitory where the up-and-coming structural apprentices live. Now the students can look back on not just the heritage of the Air Force, but as carpenters, how far the technology has come in tools since the era of Major Dunn and retired Major Kuschel.

Some of the items in the display case include a few hammers, a nail-puller, two block planes, a brace drill and drill bits, steel measuring tapes and some handsaws. Accompanying the tools was a letter written by Major Kuschel in August of 1996 explaining where the tool box originated. This letter has been framed, and placed inside the display case. A photo of Major Dunn, donated by his family, was also recently added to the collection.