CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A World War II hero will have his day in the spotlight, as the West Virginia National Guard names its air base in honor of him.

Ret. Brig. General James Kemp McLaughlin will be on hand Saturday as the Guard renames the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston, the McLaughlin Air National Guard Base.

McLaughlin attended a news conference Wednesday to talk about the honor.

“I’m 95-years-old. My days are over and gone. I realize it is a great honor to pay me at this late stage in my life,” explained McLaughlin. “I can’t say I was greatly excited cause I’m just too old to get excited anymore.”

McLaughlin, who was born in Braxton County, entered the war in 1942. State Adjutant General James Hoyer stressed McLaughlin participated in “some of the most significant air campaigns in World War II.”

“The raid on the ball bearing facility in [Schweinfurt] Germany, the raid on the facility in Norway that helped stem the German ability to develop the atomic bomb and support to our ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge,” listed off Hoyer.

McLaughlin is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with three silver oak leaf clusters. Hoyer said many in the West Virginia Air Guard had no idea who McLaughlin was and that needed to change.

“We felt that it was more than appropriate to memorialize the service of General McLaughlin and his contributions to the Air National Guard in West Virginia but more importantly to the defense of this nation,” according to Hoyer.

McLaughlin was just 23 when he flew his first combat mission, as a B-17 co-pilot. He served his country for 37-years, 30 of those as the commander of the state’s first Air National Guard Squadron.

Last year, the West Virginia National Guard named the new armory in Fairmont after World War II Medal of honor recipient Hershel Woody Williams.

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  • Charles Falls


    Peggy and I enjoyed our visit at dinner with you in Florida along with your daughter, Ann Baker, Betty Carneal and Paul Causby. It is one thing to read your memoirs but speaking with a living legend Patriot is memorable.
    Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.

    Charles Falls

  • J Dale Simmons, MD

    Kemp you are one of the most honorable, humble and patriotic persons I have ever known. I should know for I played golf with you for years and after a few dozen rounds of golf you really know an individual. All the best to you.. now spend some of that money you won from all of us and buy yourself and I-Pad and if you do bring it to North Carolina and I will show you how to use it.

  • Paul Causby

    Kemp, What a great honor to a great American. I'm so proud to know you and to have been in your company over the last few years during my winter stay in Florida. look forward to seeing you again soon. Paul

  • Rich Waddington

    I was Kemps winter neighbor in Florida for ten years, could not of asked for a more polite, pleasant and all around stand up guy. All my best to you Kemp, Rich,

  • John Fertig

    I am proud of General McLaughlin for his service to our nation. And I'm PROUD to have served with & to know his daughter Laura who was a Donut Dollie @ Tuy Hoa Ab Vietnam.

  • Mike

    Attended a panel discussion at University of Charleston 30 years ago that featured General McLaughlin, Chuck Yeager and Paul Bowles. What a treat to listen to those three describe their air combat experiences in WWII.

  • TheFungoKnows

    Nice honor for a great man.
    My father was a B-17 pilot in WWII. I once asked him what he thought his biggest accomplishment was in WWII? He said that it was, without any doubt or hesitation, getting his 10-man crew home safe after every bombing mission.

  • mike

    Long overdue recogition. As a captain on 10/14/43 Gen. McLaughlin was the lead pilot of the mission commanders aircraft on the raid to Schweinfurt, Germany. Out of a force of under 300 aircraft, 60 planes were lost- 600 men killed or captured. War is a tragedy but some men (and women) show incredible courage in the face of death and danger. A great West Virginian.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    So if one has access to ball-bearings, then you can be one step closer to creating a weapon of mass destruction?

    Makes you want to treat skateboarders with more respect, doesn't it?

    • robert thomas


      • Gilbert Gnarley

        Sorry, robert thomas. Just trying to bring a little levity to Hoyer's remarks regarding ball bearings and nuclear devices.

        It was not my intention to touch a nerve nor to detract from the honor given to General McLaughlin.

        I would not do that to my relative.

        • Gen Kemp

          Sorry Gilbert Gnarley, but you're still an idiot.

          • Gilbert Gnarley


  • Chris Fleming

    What does Chuck think about this?

  • zero tolerance

    The State of West Virginia and America will forever be in debt for this man's sacrifices. A fitting honor.