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Veterans Day is a Celebration of People

The venerable P-51 Mustang was actually designed by the German-born Edgar Schmued.

The venerable P-51 Mustang was designed by the German-born Edgar Schmued.

I have probably thought more about this article than just about any other article that I have written, and I still am not exactly sure what I want to say so I will start with a little education and see where I end up.

For those who may not know exactly where Veterans Day comes from or why we honor it, let me explain it for you.  The original holiday was designed to honor those who had died in WWI and was celebrated on November 11 in honor of when the Armistice with Germany went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Armistice Day is still celebrated in other countries, and is also referred to as Remembrance Day in places like Canada and the UK.

After WWII a movement was started by a veteran named Raymond Weeks who thought the holiday should celebrate all veterans, and not just those who died in WWI.  In 1954 the Veterans Day that we know was officially established to honor all veterans who have served this great nation.  Just to be clear, Memorial Day is to honor those who died in service to the country, while Veterans Day is to celebrate ALL who served.

I guess maybe that is the message I want to focus on is that this is a celebration of people.  Many people have played many different roles in multiple different wars in the last century.

We are often quick to recognize those who died or performed heroic acts, and rightfully so because they made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom and the freedom of others.  They deserve our utmost gratitude and adulation for their actions, and I will never tire of hearing their stories and honoring their example in any way that I can.

It is also important to recognize those whose contributions may easily get overlooked.  Being the avgeek that I am I think of people like Edgar Schmued, the German-born designer of the P-51 Mustang that had a huge impact on the air war and directly impacted the final outcome of the war.

I only recently learned of my Grandma's involvement in the Navy.

I only recently learned of my Grandma’s involvement in the Navy.

I think of my Grandma who served in the Navy as a clerk in the Brooklyn Shipyard ensuring that parts were getting to where they needed to be.

I think of my friend, and fellow Airman, Joe Kaelin who comes from a family of military members that have served for over 70 years including 32 years consecutively.

I think of my dad who served in the Army in both tanks and helicopters; which ultimately inspired my love of airplanes and my own military service.

I think of standing on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego 11 years ago and ultimately crossing the parade deck with 214 other young men.  Sadly, I have little contact with many of them now but it is not unreasonable to think some of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice, or at least been wounded defending our freedom.

I think of the young men and women I had the opportunity to support last year in Afghanistan bringing them valuable supplies, or bringing them injured back to a hospital where they could receive the care they needed.

You see there really are no words to describe exactly how I feel about this day.  It is one of those things that you can’t really describe unless you have experienced it yourself.  There are so many amazing people who fulfilled their duty in whatever way they were asked that makes it possible for all of us to live our lives the way we want to.

The sacrifices made by each of us as individuals varies dramatically depending upon the era in which we served, and the missions which we were called to perform.  But, no matter what those sacrifices were we accepted them willingly and performed at our best to ensure that those around us could return home safely, and if that wasn’t possible that at least their sacrifice would mean something in defending the freedoms of those they were fighting for.

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

It is one of the great honors of my life to serve with amazing men and women who have sacrificed so much for people they don’t even know.

Veterans Day is a special day for me because it helps me to take a second to stop and think about the legacy that I am leaving behind.  We military members have been entrusted with a very solemn legacy that means so much to so many people and it is important to stop and think about that sometimes.  The most important part of that legacy is the people themselves who sacrificed so much and asked for absolutely nothing in return.

I would encourage you to seek out those that you may know that have served, or are currently serving.  Maybe it is a friend, family member, or coworker.  Take a moment on this day to thank them, and more importantly ask them about their story.  For those who are capable of sharing, ensuring that legacy lives on can be one of the greatest expressions of gratitude that they will ever receive.

I would love to hear their stories in the comments below, or through any other means you deem appropriate.  As I said before, keeping their story alive is one of the greatest honors we can give them so please help me to do that.  Thank you for your support.

November 11, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Every AvGeek’s Dream: My Adventures in Everett: Part 2 Historic Flight Foundation

As I mentioned in my previous post about my adventures at Paine Field, I ended my first day with a trip to the Historic Flight Foundation.  They are located off of Kilo 7 on the field, or in the southwest corner of the airport off the Mukilteo Speedway if you are driving there.  If you don’t have the time to sit around and wait for modern planes to take-off and land then I would highly recommend you spend your time here.

According to their website:

“Historic Flight Foundation was established in 2003 as “John T. Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation” with the intention to collect, restore, and share significant aircraft from the period between the solo Atlantic crossing of Charles Lindbergh and the first test flight of the Boeing 707. Throughout the intervening years, Historic Flight has acquired at least two aircraft annually and engaged the best restoration resources available to return the collection to original splendor.”

I must say that they are doing an amazing job of fulfilling their mission.  I was only able to take a few pictures (see below) before my phone died, but they are hands down the most impeccably maintained aircraft I have ever seen.  I had the opportunity to see Marine One up close once, and it was not as clean and shiny as these old warbirds, and they all still fly regularly which is an achievement in and of itself.

Their most popular aircraft is probably the B-25, named Grumpy.  It has all of the character that I love about these old planes.  It has a story that tells itself simply by being in its presence.  You can also climb inside and take a look around which gives the whole thing even more perspective.

I had the opportunity to climb into the navigator/bombardier’s seat, and as a current navigator it gave me a much greater appreciation of how they did the job back then.  The things that I take for granted were not even considered back then.  Yet they still had to accomplish their mission just like I do now.

What would a warbird collection be without a good old P-51 Mustang?  Their Mustang, Impatient Virgin? is simply stunning(sorry the pic is a little blurry).  One thing that also makes it unique is that the machine guns are still loaded.  Just one of the many awesome features at Historic Flight that make it special.

They also just recently acquired an old DC-3 that was actually the corporate aircraft for Johnson and Johnson.  Having climbed into a lot of private jets while working at an FBO I must say that the amenities have improved dramatically.  That being said, they once again did a stellar job restoring it, and even have a page from the original logbook when the plane flew most of the way around the world.

The plane that I was most impressed with was the Waco UPF-7.  It is the green fuselage with off-white wings in the pictures below.  Like all of the others it is stunning, but when you see the pictures they have on display of back when the entire thing was in boxes it is incredible how pristine it looks now, and once again, it still flies regularly.

They also had to re-manufacture the wings, so while they were at it they made an extra and turned into a conference room table.  The cool thing is that they could take the glass top off, wrap the frame and it would work just fine as an actual wing.

The thing that probably struck me most about my visit to Historic Flight was the people who worked there.  They are all passionate about their work.  They are well versed on the aircraft they have, and know way more than just the basic details of the model.  Each of the aircraft has a unique story, as many of these older aircraft do, and the staff all know the stories.

With all of the 787s parked all over the field there are actually three parked right outside of Historic Flight which you can see in my picture of the DC-3.  It was really interesting seeing these relatively ancient aircraft sitting next to arguably the most modern aircraft out there, yet it was grounded while these old birds still fly just fine.

Regardless of the technology involved, aircraft will never cease to amaze me.  Whether it is the rumble of an old P-51 or B-25, or the relative whisper of the 787, they all leave me in awe.  Watching them cruise down then runway and then lift off as if being on the ground was just the wrong place for them to be is something that I will never stop enjoying.

Coming up next: The Boeing Factory Tour.

April 25, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.