UC MagazineUniversity of CincinnatiUC Magazine

UC Magazine

Historian seeks Cincy women who served in WWII

Cover of Lou Thole's "Forgotten Fields" book.

Lou Thole is author of the "Forgotten Fields of America" a four-volume series.

Local author searches for women who stayed at UC while serving in WWII

by Katie Coburn

A noted aviation historian is searching for women who stayed at the University of Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall as part of their World War II service.

As a part of his efforts to publish the history of Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport’s involvement in WWII, Lou Thole, author of “Forgotten Fields of America,” a four-volume book series detailing United States Army Air Force training fields utilized during World War II, hopes to speak with women who served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) with the Air Transport Command (ATC) Ferrying Division.

Thole’s more than six months of research so far has resulted in finding from UC’s University Archives a list of the names of 122 WACs who worked with the ATC at its world headquarters located in the Central Trust Annex at 309 Vine St. in Cincinnati. According to a "monthly historical report" [see below] dated November 1944, which Thole located in the Office of Air Force History of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., UC housed the WACs in its Memorial Hall dormitory, part of the present-day College-Conservatory of Music.

“Special arrangements for eating breakfast in the Student Union, holding classes in the women’s building and enjoying the recreational facilities of the Student Union building are provided by the University,” the report states.

During this time, hangers at Lunken Airport housed 300 to 500 men who serviced airplanes for the ATC. But Thole wishes to speak with WACs who stayed at Memorial Hall of whom he assumes also associated with those working at Lunken Airport. 

“There’s wonderful history here that should be recorded because significant things happened, and UC was a part of that,” Thole says.

As a retired sales manager who served in the military for more than two years, Thole holds a private and glider pilot’s license and volunteers in the restoration division of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Having been published in several respected Air Force publications including Friends Journal of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Thole possesses extensive knowledge on WWII training fields, and his books can be used as research tools, he says.

Explore U.S. Air Force documents

Historian Lou Thole found historical evidence connecting the university with World War II Women's Army Corps living on campus.

U.S. Air Force history documents reveal the connection to the University of Cincinnati.
U.S. Air Force history documents reveal the connection to the University of Cincinnati.
U.S. Air Force history documents reveal the connection to the University of Cincinnati.

Anyone with information pertaining to any person or WAC once involved with the Air Transport Command Ferrying Division who wishes to share their experience can contact Thole at 513-489-7400.

Katie Coburn is a writing intern with UC Magazine.