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Fletcher Hill arch restored

  • Published
  • By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
  • I.B. Brown Training and Education Center

A painter finished a restoration of the Fletcher Hill archway that spans the steps outside the Wilson Hall fitness center and gymnasium, February 3, 2020, at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in East Tennessee.

The work was part of routine maintenance, and it included scraping off peeling paint, sanding, priming, and painting the welded arch of angle iron, decorative metal S-bends, and the letters "Fletcher Hill."

Former NCO Academy students from the Michigan Air National Guard brought the archway and a plaque to TEC on October 20, 1976, and dedicated it to U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Leonard Fletcher.

"I pass the torch to you - carry it high and proud," said Chief Fletcher during that dedication.

Chief Fletcher attended the first NCO academy class at TEC in 1968. While leading his flight with others during a graduation practice march, he and his ranks kept marching down the hill, away from the drill pad, when they did not hear a command for Column Right. The archway memorializes that light-hearted moment. The base Exchange and parking area now take up the old drill area where the arch first stood. Students used to pass under the arch there on their way to drill.

Chief Fletcher died about a month after attending the 1976 dedication. He immigrated with his family from England as well as joined the Michigan Army National Guard in the early 1930s. He earned his citizenship in 1943, and he then joined the Air National Guard in 1947 as a motor pool mechanic and later became an aircraft maintenance supervisor as well as a flight chief, among other assignments.