|By Carmelo Turdo|
Some military displays outside of the main terminal included a Bell Helicopter OH-58 Kiowa from the new St. Louis Chapter of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, representatives from the Mount Vernon Memorial VFW Post 9233 and Joe Steimann's restored McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II cockpit that is also on display at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum when not at event locations.
Throughout the day, Young Eagle flights were provided for youth aged 8-17.
Eric Downing's Vietnam War-era Douglas Skyraider on static display was an impressive backdrop for the Vietnam Veterans ceremony later in the afternoon.
Also on display were some classic cars, motorcycles, vender booths and first responder vehicles.
Two beautiful World War II-era North American AT-6 Texans were on display courtesy of owners Kevin Kegin and Greg Vallero.
Helicopter rides were available throughout the day before the veterans ceremony.
The guests of honor, Vietnam War Veterans, entered the airport following participation in a local community parade under escort by the Illinois Patriot Guard. Keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Ted Buck (USAF Ret.), C-123 Provider pilot during the Vietnam War. Following the speaker, a group photo was staged in front of the Skyraider. Three helicopters gave their salute to the veterans, one flying the U.S. flag.
Following the veterans recognition ceremony, the two Texans and the Skyraider departed for their home airports.
The Aero Experience thanks Mount Vernon Outland Airport Manager Chris Collins, airport staff and volunteers and the participants for making this event very successful. We also thank the Vietnam War veterans for their service and offer our "Welcome Home" to you.