‘Masters of the Air’, screened first locally, reveals legacy of bomb squad

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force provides historically significant setting for showing of new series.

The riveting new World War II-era Apple TV+ series “Masters of the Air” was screened for local military Thursday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in advance of its global premiere Friday.

Executive produced by the Emmy Award-winning team behind “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, “Masters of the Air” chronicles the men of the 100th Bomb Group (“Bloody Hundredth”) who conducted perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany. Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name and written by John Orloff, the series compellingly captures the valor and fear within the group as they grappled with frigid conditions, lack of oxygen and the sheer terror of combat.

The outstanding cast, fully capturing the humor and brotherhood imperative to survival against the backdrop of battle, is led by Academy Award nominees Austin Butler (“Elvis”) and Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) along with Callum Turner (“The Boys in the Boat”). Composer Blake Neely notably provides an excellent score that sweeps and swells with emotion.



The first episode of the nine-episode limited series was screened for invited active duty, reservists, veterans and their families courtesy of USAA.

“As a company founded by members of the military for the military, it’s our mission to continue to serve those who served our country,” said Jen Escobar, assistant vice president of marketing for USSA. “USAA is honored to give our military guests the exclusive opportunity to screen ‘Masters of the Air’ in a state-of-the-art theater at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, a historically significant setting that intrinsically enhances our military guests’ experience.”

Mike Warner, former chief of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from 2012-2016 now living in Charlotte, served as the evening’s host. He was eager to see the series since it centered on the legacy of a bombing squad that was part of the Eighth Air Force. Having been a fan of “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” which respectively focused on the Army and Marines, he felt the opportunity to have the Air Force spotlighted was overdue.

“It’s important to tell the history, service and sacrifice of the airmen,” Warner said. “It’s important for the nation, it’s important for our youth, to see the courage and bravery of those who are of our Greatest Generation.”

Credit: Russell Florence

Credit: Russell Florence

Warner also served as a command chief at the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the successor to the Bloody Hundredth in the United Kingdom. He recalls the sense of pride that was part of the unit due to its rich history.

“I remember being over there and the pride from World War II that they had and still have today in what the Hundredth did,” Warner said.

Allowing guests ample time to admire and reflect upon the vast history in the World War II Gallery prior to the screening also heightened the festivities.

“I can’t think of a better place for this screening,” Warner said. “This is the best museum for (aviation) in the world. To me, it’s better than the Smithsonian. There is a lot of pride in the Air Force and what they do here with Wright-Patterson, which is very critical to the Air Force’s success. It’s certainly a pleasure for USAA to be able to do this screening for our currently serving and vets that live and reside in this community. We do events throughout the year to support those who support our nation every day.”

World War II Navy veteran Don Muncy was the evening’s special guest. For more than 30 years, the 101-year-old Springfield resident was involved in aviation, from flying planes to working for the FAA in air traffic control. His career began in 1940 and he worked in air traffic control for the Navy until his enlistment expired in 1946.

In 1950, Muncy was recalled to the Navy and served as chief controller at the Naval air base in Adack, Alaska, during the Korean Conflict. He continued this role through 1951, after which he returned to work in air traffic control. He ultimately retired in 1977 in Grass Valley, Calif.. He and his wife moved back to Springfield in 1999. His wife passed away in 2019.

Credit: Russell Florence

Credit: Russell Florence

Muncy was excited to take part in the event having read Miller’s book. He hoped the series would be equally eye-opening and informative.

“The book definitely went into a lot of detail I never even know about it but it’s very, very interesting, particularly people that’s associated with aviation,” Muncy said. “But the general public, I think, will get a great charge out of it because it really tells you all about the bombing of Frace and Germany. It’s very good — excellent.”

As “Masters of the Air” continues to air on Apple TV+ with new episodes every Friday though March 15, Warner hopes those actively serving will view the series as a source of inspiration.

“I hope our active service airmen see themselves in the (series),” he said. “For me, I think of how humbling it made me feel to think that those guys would get into a plane, attack heavily-defended targets, airplanes getting destroyed. And their reward was to go back up the next day and the next day and the next day. I think (that courage) gives a young airman immense pride. And if they ever have to, I know they can.”

Credit: Russell Florence

Credit: Russell Florence

About the Author