Cassie Gibbs

On Monday, I had a chance to learn a bit more about Fort Rucker and its history.

As I’ve said before, I come from an area and a background with little military influence. Living here in an area surrounded by the Army, I am always learning something I never knew before.

This particular experience, I was able to learn about the history behind the name of Cairns Army Airfield in Daleville. I have driven past the area several times before, but I have never before had an opportunity to find myself next to the airstrips.

I actually came to be at the airfield because of the man it was named after, Maj. Gen. Bogardus Snowden Cairns. To be more specific, I came to be there because of his family.

For those who, like me, may not know about Cairns, he was a former commander of the Army Aviation School who tragically died in a helicopter crash in 1958.

The airfield, formerly known as Ozark Airfield, was renamed soon after his death.

I was at Cairns Army Airfield to witness a rededication ceremony to the field, an event attended by Cairns’ three children. The main speaker of the event was Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Cairns, the general’s grand nephew.

The chaplain led the effort to gather information about his great uncle, in addition to his entire military family lineage, and create a display to highlight his career for visitors to the airfield’s base operations building.

At the event, display cases held articles about the military endeavors of Maj. Gen. Cairns, original documents written by the general and uniforms he wore during his military career. It was as if I walked into a mini museum, looking at the history that was available for visitors of the event to see.

Some of the information I learned on Monday included Cairns’ involvement in taking cavalry ideals and applying them to aviation, his involvement in World War II maneuvers and his connection to Fort Rucker besides just having an airfield named after him.

I was also able to speak with his family members, who said they actually learned new information about their father and his military activities. They also remembered lessons he taught them before he died.

It’s always fascinating to learn more about Fort Rucker. I love learning about the people related to Fort Rucker and seeing the influence those individuals still have today.

I know the family of Maj. Gen. Cairns is proud of his service and his legacy. The chaplain said he hoped that the display and the story of his great uncle, the general, would be inspirational to today’s leaders and those of the future.

If you don’t know much about Cairns, I would suggest researching him or visiting the display if you are able. His story is incredible, and who knows, you may just be the leader his family hopes to inspire one day.

I’m not in the military, and I don’t know if I’m what could be considered a leader, but after that event on Monday, I do know that I’m inspired.

Cassie Gibbs is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at cgibbs@southeastsun.com.

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