NeighborWorks Great Falls recently supported several community initiatives that recognize and honor the diversity of Great Falls’ history. Two honorable citizens are now permanently displayed due to the efforts and partnership of NeighborWorks Great Falls, Malmstrom Air Force Base, and the City of Great Falls. NeighborWorks organizations are dedicated to race and equity efforts across the U.S., as we work to strengthen neighborhoods by promoting diversity and inclusion of all our neighbors.
A new plaque honoring World War II Lend Lease WASP Pilot, Hazel Ah Ying Lee, now stands in Lion’s Park. Lee tragically crashed at Great Falls Army Air Base in 1944, while delivering a Bell-63 fighter aircraft. The plane was on its way to arm the Soviet Red Air Force, desperately battling the Germans on the Eastern Front. Lee was the first Chinese American woman to earn a pilot’s license and fly for the U.S. Military. Her efforts secured 5,000 fighters, helping secure US allies in the battle against Nazi forces. Hazel Ying Lee’s legacy will be honored, not only in our community, but among women and Asian-Americans throughout American history, as she earned a Gold Congressional Medal in 2010.
NeighborWorks Great Falls also played a part in the creation of a mural for baseball legend Eddie Reed at Centene Stadium. Reed played three seasons in the late 50’s and early 60’s for the Great Falls Electrics. Reed is now a part of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. NeighborWorks Great Falls, along with the Great Falls Voyagers, Malmstrom AFB Diversity and Inclusion Council, Ken Robison (historian), and Sheree Nelson (artist) for making this mural possible, honoring Eddie Reed’s legacy in breaking the racial barrier in baseball history.
NeighborWorks Great Falls knows that building stronger neighborhoods in this community means recognizing and honoring the diversity of our neighbors and Great Falls' history. NeighborWorks thanks all those who made these initiatives possible, looking forward to the long-standing impact the Hazel Ah Ying Lee plaque and Eddie Reed’s mural will have for generations to come.