D-DAY REMEMBERED

June 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

Since I was a boy I’ve always had a love for airplanes. While a senior in college, I learned to fly – thanks to the Air Force, and reported to pilot training five days after graduation in 1969. I’ve soloed in two types of aircraft, the Cessna 150 and the Cessna 172 which the Air Force calls the T-41. I then began flying the T-37, a small twin-engine jet. I never conquered that aircraft, the T-37 conquered me and I washed-out on Labor Day 1969.
Keeping alive that love for aircraft, 15 years ago I became a member of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM), an organization dedicated to preserving the history of aircraft produced in the Mid-Atlantic region and aircraft of World War II. One of MAAM’s prized possessions is the B-25J Briefing Time. Their inventory also includes a navy Avenger and a host of trainers, a PT-23, PT-26 and SNJ-4B Texan. Located in Reading, Pennsylvania, I highly recommend visiting or joining the museum if you are a history or aircraft buff.
Every year the MAAM holds, on the first weekend of June, World War II weekend. This year the event fell on June 6, 7 and 8th, and being there on June 6th held special meaning for it was the 70th anniversary of D Day. I try to volunteer all three days of the show manning one of the entry gates, taking admissions and thanking people for attending.
The air show draws a host of historic aircraft, trainers, fighters, bombers and cargo planes, all of them having played an important role in winning the war. In addition to the aircraft are hundreds of reenactors representing America’s army and navy as well as the soldiers of England, Germany, Japan and Russia. These troops bring along over 100 military and civilian vehicles representing the era.
In attendance are veterans, some famous and some that just did their job and want to share their experiences. I enjoy being around these men and women who risked so much in a time when the enemy was clearly defined and the reasons for the conflict beyond doubt.
In addition to the veterans drawn to the show as speakers, a number of them also are among the spectators. Testifying to this is the size of the handicapped parking area to make it as easy as possible for the elderly to attend and the staff who offer all the respect and aid they can for these cherished individuals. I never miss the opportunity to shake the hand of these elderly heroes and thank them for their service.
This past weekend, on the morning of June 6th, I was helping a speaker to where he wanted to go and noticed his baseball cap which displayed the slogan, B-26 bomber pilot. I asked him what he was doing 70 years ago on this day and he said he was dropping bombs on Cherbourg, France in support of the landing.
At the entry gate another gentleman made his way toward me, short and hobbling along using a cane. He was 90 and was a soldier there on D Day. I also had the opportunity to shake the hand of a veteran of The Battle of the Bulge. All these encounters are very special to me.
Over the years I have met some impressive individuals whose lives were changed forever by a time requiring unbelievable dedication and personal sacrifice. I cherish the opportunity to talk to these individuals who participated in a time which cannot be truly appreciated unless you were there. As the years go by, fewer and fewer veterans remain to tell their stories, to remind us of the price paid so that we are able to enjoy the life we live.

Here are some photos from the show.

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C-46 COMMANDO

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P-47D THUNDERBOLT

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ENCAMPMENTS

Entry filed under: OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS, Uncategorized, Walt Trizna, WALT'S OBSERVATIONS, WALT'S OPINIONS. Tags: , , , , , , .

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