Namesake of NH Air Base Honored

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Charles Johnston

The New Hampshire National Guard dedicated its new Heritage Room on May 20 in memory of New Hampshire Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Harl Pease Jr., a pilot who was killed during World War II.

Distinguished guests attended a small ribbon-cutting ceremony held at Concord's state military reservation, including Pease family members and 14 retired general officers.

The facility was unveiled last year after extensive renovations and design appliqu├ęs. Though various museum-quality antiques are on permanent display, Pease artifacts comprise its most venerable exhibit.

New Hampshire Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities addressed attendees, including Pease relatives who donated several of the war hero's military effects.

"We are truly humbled and honored by his sacrifices to our nation and honored to be the recipient of your donation to display his artifacts here in perpetuity," said Mikolaities.

Pease, a native of Plymouth, New Hampshire, and his B-17 crew were shot down by Japanese fighters over Papua New Guinea in 1942. Though he survived the crash, he was executed months later in a Japanese prison camp.

The Pease collection includes his painted portrait, an encased American flag, medals and ribbons, and a flight bag inscribed with his handwritten name and initials.

Retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth Clark was one of several former New Hampshire adjutants general at the ceremony.

"I'm so pleased to see the NHNG being given the honor of preserving the heritage of Harl Pease Jr.," Clark said. He was also quite impressed with the new facility, stating emphatically he was "blown away."

Before finding its current home, the Pease collection was on private display in the Connecticut residence of Muriel Benton, widow to Pease's first cousin, Brian. Muriel said when her husband passed away about five years ago, she decided to sell their large colonial house. During real estate showings, she was surprised to discover how much interest the items attracted. Potential buyers would even inquire if the exhibit could be included with sale of the house.

"That really pushed the idea that it belongs in the world," Benton said. "It belongs here.