|By Carmelo Turdo|
|Lt. Max Firebaugh, Dec. 1942|
Mount Vernon's favorite son was also known for an early aeronautical exploit over town. Collins relates the story this way: "During a 1943 cross-country test flight, Max wanted to say hello to his friends and family back home and Mt. Vernon was directly on course. As legend states, windows were rattled in the Rogers Building downtown. Max’s mother was so inspired by the act, she wrote a letter to her favorite poet, Edgar Guest. The letter described the flight through Mt. Vernon by one of its own preparing to fight overseas. Mr. Guest crafted a poem “Dusting off His Hometown” in tribute to Max’s aerial antics over Mt. Vernon. The poem was published in syndicated newspapers as well as the Saturday Evening Post on July 27, 1943. Max spent the rest of his life fearful that the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and later, the Federal Aviation Administration, would render punishment."
|Post Card Sent by Max Firebaugh from England|
After serving members of the local aviation community for most of his life, there came a time in November of 2011 when Max Firebaugh needed their help, and they quickly came to his aid. After falling ill following a series of strokes, family members living in Knoxville, Tennessee felt it would be better for him to be with them rather than remain in Mount Vernon. Airport Manager Chris Collins continues: "Mt. Vernon Outland Airport Management sought assistance from the local aviation community for help relocating Max to Knoxville. Within one hour of the request, Dr. Alan Froehling generously offered to fly Max in his Piper Navajo aircraft. A request for someone with the skills to care for Max during the flight was answered by longtime Mt. Vernon Physician, and Max’s personal Doctor and friend, Dr. Richard Garretson. Nurse Millie, from Dr. Garretson’s Office, volunteered to help as well. Also assisting with the flight were the aviation mechanics at SRT Aviation who helped ready the aircraft for the flight. Litton Ambulance Service provided Max’s transportation from Countryside Manor to the airport.
"Friday, December 23, 2011, was cold and windy so the team decided to load Max inside the Heroes Memorial Hangar. Many of Max’s friends, airport employees, airport board members, and aviation enthusiasts showed up to say what is hoped to be a temporary “goodbye” to a favorite son and an aviation legend. Although Max had very hard feelings leaving his beloved Mt. Vernon, he knew he had a better chance recovering with his family members by his side in Tennessee."
Sadly, he did not recover, but has again returned to a grateful Mount Vernon. Memorials may be given to Central Christian Church Food Pantry and will be accepted at the funeral home, church or may be mailed to Hughey Funeral Home, P.O. Box 721, Mt. Vernon, Illinois 62864.
For more information about Max Firebaugh, please visit:
Hughey Funeral Home: http://www.hugheyfuneralhome1969.com/expressionsoftware/index.php/obituaries/view/max_creighton_firebaugh/
U.S. Military Tribute:
(Photos and background information for this feature were provided by Chris Collins).