The new book by Brig. Gen. Kennard R. Wiggins Jr. (DE ANG Retired), "Delaware Air National Guard" - part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, contains more than 200 photographs from the history of the guard. Proceeds of this book will go to fund a military museum at Fort DuPont in Delaware City.
For Elkton resident Brig. Gen. Kennard R. Wiggins Jr. (DE ANG Retired), his new book, “Delaware Air National Guard” is not only a book of history, but a family photo album.
The book, published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its “Images of America” series, contains more than 200 photographs of the Delaware Air National Guard from its beginnings in the 1940s post-World War II to the present day. Wiggins collected the photos as well as wrote the introductions and captions that describe the guard’s beginnings as a suburban man’s flying club/military organization to its development as a professional organization that has served in Vietnam, the Middle East, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wiggins has many ties to the air guard, which began in 1946, two months before he was born. He is a third generation Delaware guardsman and many of his relatives have served in the guard. His father was one of the founders of the Delaware Air National Guard, and Wiggins himself served for 37 years.
The book took Wiggins six months to write, but he technically started more than 20 years ago.
“I’ve actually kind of written versions of this book in the past,” he said.
During his time with the guard, Wiggins created two books containing pictures from the guard’s hisotry during its 40th and 60th anniversaries in 1986 and 2006.
“They were just sold among the guys in the unit as a kind of yearbook,” he said.
Eventually, Wiggins decided to publish something similar as a book.
“I thought if any one of the members were going to do it, it might as well be me,” he said.
He began by writing a proposal and sending it to numerous publishers of local history. Arcadia, which publishes pictorial histories of small towns and regions across the nation, accepted. Wiggins then began writing.
“You kind of have to work in the format Arcadia likes,” he said.
For the photos, Wiggins relied on the archives of the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation, Inc., of which he is the executive director. To identify those in the photographs and for the written sections of the book, Wiggins consulted primary documents of the time period and spoke to many veterans.
“Many of my comrades straightened me out on dates, names, places and nomenclature as well,” Wiggins stated in a press release. “I had the benefit of dozens of editors.”
He finished the book in June and Arcadia published it Nov. 17.
Wiggins said this book will appeal to those who were in or had family in the guard, as well as to those who like airplanes. The book contains many shots of the planes used during that time, the pilots who flew them and quite a few airborne shots of planes flying in formation.
“I like airplanes,” Wiggins said. “I always have.”
He said his favorite photo in the book comes at the beginning, a picture of the first meeting, which explained to interested men the purpose of the guard.
“My dad is in that picture, right where the two pages meet,” he said.
Wiggins said part of the profits of the book will go to the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation’s Delaware Military Museum, to be located at Fort DuPont in Delaware City.
“I hope I have captured the legacy of the men and women of the Delaware Air National Guard,” he stated. “It is a story that I feel needs to be re-told to future generations.”
Wiggins will be at the Borders Books & Music Store on 101 Geoffrey Drive, Newark on Saturday, Nov. 29, at 1 p.m. He will also be at Barnes & Noble at 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 2 p.m.
“Delaware Air National Guard” can be found at local bookstores, as well as www.arcadiapublishing.com.