CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Charleston Air National Guard base that houses the 130th Airlift Wing will be renamed in honor of the West Virginia Air National Guard's first commanding officer, Brig. Gen. James Kemp McLaughlin.A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday to officially announce the name-change to McLaughlin Air National Guard Base.McLaughlin,who was born in Braxton County and grew up in Charleston, joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 and piloted B-17 bombers over Europe during World War II. In 1943, he was the lead pilot in a mission to destroy the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany. The "Black Thursday" bombing raid, considered the biggest aerial battle in history, involved 260 B-17s, one-fourth of which were destroyed.
B-17s piloted by McLaughlin were severely damaged on at least two occasions during his 39 bombing missions during the war. A lieutenant colonel at war's end, he launched a construction supply business in Charleston after the war, but was asked in 1947 to organize and serve as commander of the state's first Air National Guard unit. In 1951, he led the squadron in combat during the Korean War.McLaughlin served as a Kanawha County commissioner from 1963 to 1969 and was elected to a term in the House of Delegates in 1974.