The Mighty Eighth, a re-designation of VIII Bomber Command at RAF DAWS Hill in England, was a combat air force unit with the United States Army Air Force in the European Theater of World War II. The unit carried out strategic bombing  of enemy targets in France and Germany and engaged in air-to-air combat with enemy aircraft. It was the largest of the deployed combat Army Air Forces in personnel, aircraft and equipment.
For one Ardmore Veteran, the Eighth was an opportunity to fly. Theodore “Ted” Spurgeon was a pilot for the division in 1945. “I flew a B-24, a four-engine bomber,” Spurgeon said. “I always said if its got wings on it, I can fly it. But it has to have a tail, too!”  He did more than fly — he also survived being a prisoner of war.
“They shot me down and captured me,” Spurgeon said. “They shot my airplane in two. They put me in a prison camp for four months. They liked to starve me to death.”
That was in early 1945, Spurgeon said. He didn’t speak of what happened during the time he spent in the European prison camp, other than to say he spent a lot of time hungry.
Spurgeon said he grew up not far from the Veterans Center he now calls home. “I lived at the end of McLish Street,” he said. He went to school at Ardmore, then went to work for a local tin shop after
graduation. “I worked six days a week and spent all my money on learning how to fly,” Spurgeon said. Though he joined the Army and was trained as a fighter pilot in their Air Forces Division, he learned to fly long before he went into the service. “I sure had a great time,” Spurgeon said “They issued me an airplane and filled it up with gas and said ‘go fly it.’ And I did.”
This Sunday, Spurgeon and other World War II Veterans in the area will have an opportunity to go up once again. Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to seniors and military veterans living in long-term care facilities who dream to “soar like an eagle,” will take eight veterans up in a Boeing Stearman biplane. The organization’s mission is to “give back to those who have given.” Spurgeon said he is looking forward to it.
“I never flew the Stearman,” he said. “But I can fly it. I can do a high-speed stall and then kick in a lot of rudder. It’ll snap to the right and do a snap roll. Maybe a barrel roll. Anything but straight and level.” Spurgeon said he hopes he will be able to see the wind turbines up in the mountains from the sky.
The flights will begin around 9 a.m. on Sunday at the Ardmore Executive Airport. The public is encouraged to attend and support the veterans and their families.