View online edition


WWII Observation Tower Moved to Army Air Field

John Knoop, III, Millville Army Air Field Museum board member, left, and Jim Vertolli, museum past president, right, thank Quinton Jones, owner of the property where the tower has been located in Mauricetown for his historic donation.
WWII Observation Tower leaves Mauricetown where it was located for 80 years.
WWII Observation Tower leaves Mauricetown where it was located for 80 years.

After nearly 80 years, an important World War II historic artifact has returned to its roots as the Millville Army Air Field Museum (MAAFM) recently brought an original 45-foot observation tower back to Millville Executive Airport.

One of only two built here by the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII, the observation tower was used for training P-47 Thunderbolt fighter pilots at an off-site ground gunnery range that was part of the Millville Army Air Base. Observation towers were one of the most important features of the gunnery range facilities. Pilot instructors observed training exercises from the tower to determine whether the pilots in training were qualified in their flying and gunnery skills.

The observation tower was moved to Mauricetown, approximately 10 miles south of the airport, after the war when surplus equipment and materials from the air base were distributed. It was moved to a location behind the original Mauricetown fire house. There it held the original siren and radio antenna still attached to its top.

“Our museum is so excited to bring this long-planned project to fruition” says Lisa Jester, MAAFM executive director. “Returning this important World War II observation tower to the airport for display in our historic museum courtyard will allow us to document and preserve its valuable history.

“On behalf of the museum and its members, we thank John Ruga, owner of Northeast Precast in Vineland, for his generous support of this project, supplying a crane and flatbed truck, and transporting the tower to the airport where it will be restored before re-erecting it on site,” continued Jester. “We also thank the Mauricetown Historical Society for their generosity and support. We will be looking for donations and volunteers to help with the restoration and move this project forward.”

Millville Executive Airport’s historic district, America’s First Defense Airport, is listed on the New Jersey Historic Register.

MAAFM Open House will be held on Thursday, March 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend at 1 Leddon Street, Millville Executive Airport, in Millville.