Review | Film: Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas

Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas is a feature-length documentary that features the unique aerial history of Corsicana in relation to World War II.

The 1930s and 1940s were a dark time in American History. Between the Great Recession, the Dust Bowl, Adolf Hitler’s deceptive and dangerous rise to power, the need for airbound fighters to take on the Axis powers became vital to the wartime cause.

General “Hap” Arnold partnered with civilian flying schools to gain volunteers and provide basic military flight training and logistical support training for Army Air Corps pilots. Corsicana’s role in this chapter of history came through the efforts of a civilian company called Air Activities of Texas. The company leased land (which became the grounds for the original Navarro College, and eventually evolved to the Corsicana Municipal Airport), and construction for the airfield began in 1940.

Cadets were already coming to the Navarro Hotel in preparation for training before the airfield’s completion in March 1941. The first 51 cadets immediately began their class the day after construction was completed. Cadets had to train quicky in preparation to take to the skies.

Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas features a mixture of archival period footage, including film, rare photos, historical reenactments, and interviews. The archival photos of Corsicana provide a fascinating look at the small town, an era where trolleys rolled down the streets of downtown, and the effects of the oil boom were seen in the variety of businesses.

Dr. Tommy Stringer, local historian and former executive director of the Navarro College Foundation, provides much of the background context of the film’s local story. Gary Farley, President of the Corsicana Field Aviation Heritage Foundation, and Sarah Farley, Fundraising Chairman of the Corsicana Field Aviation Heritage Foundation, provides glimpses of what life was like at Corsicana Field.

Former cadets, from Ray Blake, Jr., Stan Walsh, and former flight instructor Vern Foster, provide their own personal experiences of having been part of a newly-created school to aid the wartime effort, and the challenges that came from it.

The documentary is a creation of Ignite Productions & Entertainment, LLC and Brandt Media. James Willis, the film’s director, producer, and co-writer, began his independent film career in Corsicana during the 1980s and 1990s, working on such notable local projects as Battlestate, The Dreaded, and Love Land.

For enthusiasts of Corsicana’s rich history, this is an in-depth look of how Corsicana did its part during a difficult time in human history, and the sacrifices of those brave pilots. Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas is clearly a labor of love for the film’s creators, and it shows.

The documentary also features a “In Memoriam” for Lloyd Huffman and Gary Farley at the beginning of the film.

Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas is available now on Amazon Prime or for sale as a limited edition DVD.

Field of Valor: Air Activities of Texas film poster – Courtesy photo