LANCASTER, Ohio (WCMH) — A private bid of $1,000 won the entire collection of WWII ace Gen. James Arthur Hill — including a trove of medals and hand-written bombing logs — after three museums rejected it.
The general’s niece Jane Hill said she tried to give the collection — which also included photo albums with pictures of Gen. Hill and famous golfers like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer — to the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, but found out they didn’t have a curator.
The Air Force Museum in Dayton told Hill the items would sit in storage, and the WWII museum in New Orleans flat out refused it, she said.
“We are disappointed that they did not want to display him in the museum,” Hill said.
Hill grew up listening to her father talking with pride about her Uncle Jim.
“They lost their parents by the age of 15 — it was very tragic,” Hill said.
But there were facts she didn’t know about him until she saw the auctioneer’s catalogue.
“The write-up was a surprise. It was chronologically ordered and correct. My aunt — they had no children. She sent everything to my dad. They were in a military retirement home. Boxes and boxes came to my dad, and he laid it out on the pool table.”
The items finally fell to the responsibility of Jane Hill to take care of the collection.
Among the boxes were the hand-written flight logs.
“There were only 31 missions they would fly over Europe and then they wouldn’t let them fly anymore,” Hill recalled. “But he insisted on flying 32.”
Gen. Hill was also an ace golfer, documenting his golf games in photo albums.
“He knew The Shark (Greg Norman), Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Chi-Chi Rodriguez. They were all good friends.”
Gen. Hill and his wife Jeffie traveled extensively in Japan, Germany, and the Philippines.
“Both understood their mission and it was to be diplomats,” Hill recalled.
Now a private collector, who served under Gen. Hill during his work for the Pentagon, will receive the trove of items.
“I feel really good about where it went,” said Hill. “It was something that was sitting in my house. We are going to donate the money from the auction.”
And the person who served under Gen. Hill at the Pentagon plans to search for a permanent museum home for the items, so they can be preserved and displayed as a part of the nation’s history.