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Berry College unveils Towers' flag he gifted to Martha Berry at marker ceremony

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ROME, Ga. –  Berry College will unveil the Admiral John Henry Towers flag at the historical marker dedication in Rome today.

The Georgia Historical Marker will be installed at 701 Broad Street recognizing the historical location of Towers’ childhood home where he was born and raised. Admiral John Henry Towers was born in 1885 and is known as “The Father of Naval Aviation”.  He set early records for flying and led the first successful group trans-Atlantic air crossing in 1919.

Towers gave the 48-star American flag to Martha Berry in 1920 after he took it on his famous 1919 trans-Atlantic flight. The flag has oil stains and signs of wear from his trip. In the 95 years since, Berry College officials have preserved the flag and it is now mounted for display. Berry Chief of Staff Alexander Whitaker said the college hopes to have the flag displayed on campus with an interpretive panel.

“We are very proud to have received and preserved this important artifact of American history, aviation history, and U.S. Navy history,” said Whitaker, who is also a retired Navy captain. “The flag was given to Berry by John Towers 95 years ago to inspire Berry students, and it is our hope that when it is displayed and its story told, it will continue to do so.  We are very pleased also to introduce this important piece of history to the Rome community as it honors Admiral Towers for his extraordinary service to our country.”

Towers was born in 1885 and is known as “The Father of Naval Aviation”.  He set early records for flying and led the first successful group trans-Atlantic air crossing in 1919. A graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1906, Towers served onboard the battleships USS Kentucky (BB-6)  and USS Michigan (BB-27) before reporting to the Curtiss Flying School.

Some career highlights are:

-First combat deployment of naval aviation to Veracruz, Mexico, in April 1914.

-On June 1 1939, Towers was named Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and was responsible for the growth of Naval Aviation from 2,000 planes in 1939 to 39,000 in 1942.

-From February 1946 until February 1947 Admiral Towers was dual-hatted as both Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet and Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command.

-Towers retired as a four star Admiral and was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1966, the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in 1973, and the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in 1981.