Hanford’s legendary ‘Day’s Pay’ bomber remembered in a new place — on police badges
Richland’s legendary historic bomber is being remembered in a new way — on police cars, badges and patches.
Police and city officials unveiled a new design that features Day’s Pay, the B-17 bomber paid for by Hanford Engineering Works employees by donating their wages to buy war bonds.
“We’ve maintained the same patch and badge for decades with some small variations along the way,” Chief Brigit Clary said Thursday. “Department members were ready for a more personalized patch and badge accurately reflecting our culture and proud history.”
The bomber, which flew dozens of missions over France, Belgium and Germany, has become a symbol across the city, including a mural painted in 1993 on the side of Richland High School.
Now, it’s featured prominently on the patch officers wear on their shoulders and badge. The city also has started adding the new design to police cars.
A committee of police officers put together the design for the new logo, Clary said.
Along with the historic plane, the badge also includes other key elements that were part of the previous design, such as the atom, the Columbia River and the sun.
“The Day’s Pay symbolizes the spirit and pride of our community, which is still alive and well today,” Sgt. Shawn Swanson said during Thursday’s ceremony. “The prominent display of this plane on our badge and patch serves as a reminder that our community members are an integral part of the RPD team.”
City Manager Jon Amundson said the new design comes at a time when officers have faced new challenges to doing their jobs.
“When Chief Clary told me that they wanted to update their police badge and patch, it felt like right time in the department’s history to do such a thing,” Amundson said.
“While we look forward toward the future of our department, we also wanted to pay homage to our past.”
Mayor Pro Tem Theresa Richardson said the plane is the perfect symbol for police, who make personal sacrifices for the greater good of the community.
“You never know that personal sacrifice that you’re going to be making that will affect generations in the future,” she said. “Thank you for what you do for us, we really appreciate you.”
Day’s Pay history
The Day’s Pay came about as enthusiasm for buying war bonds in 1944 was beginning to fade.
The workers were building a facility so secret that they didn’t even know what it was for. They were still urged to buy the bonds.
A new campaign rekindled their enthusiasm, as they were urged to, “Give a day’s pay and send a bomber on its way,” according to a 2018 Tri-City Herald story.
The 44,300 workers donated enough to cover the $300,000 cost.
On July 23, 1944, the plane was christened “Day’s Pay” at the former Hanford nuclear reservation airfield before it was sent to England.
The B-17 bomber was a new model, designed to replace the B-24, which had been in use throughout the war.
It flew more than 60 missions in Germany, bombing oil refineries in Hamburg and an ordnance depot in Dusseldorf, among other targets, according to state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
Employees continued to track the plane as it made its way around the world.
“They loved their airplane. They felt connected to it,” said Don Sorenson, a Hanford historian. “The Hanford workers were encouraged to write letters to the Day’s Pay crew and they did.”
Sorenson read one of those letters Thursday.
“Take care of Day’s Pay. We worked hard to get it on the way to you, so don’t let her down.”