|By Carmelo Turdo|
Mount Vernon Outland Airport is well known for honoring veterans at events held throughout the year, and it is home to the Jefferson County Heroes Memorial and Colonel R.D. White Military Museum and Hall of Honor.
Saturday's Armed Forces Day ceremony included several unique vehicles on display and a recognition ceremony for Vietnam veterans featuring Lt. Colonel Theodore Buck, USAF (Ret.) as the keynote speaker. Colonel Buck served from 1951-1972, flying Fairchild C-123K Providers during Operation Ranch Hand in Vietnam and later transporting Dr. Henry Kissinger to locations throughout Southeast Asia and Europe in the Boeing EC-135. Colonel Buck described the historic timeline leading up to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the difficulties faced by veterans returning a nation that at the time did not honor them. "These troops of whom I speak are the heroes of that generation," he remarked. "These troops held the torch of freedom high, with honor and integrity and pride, and I am proud to be a part of that generation. Welcome home, troops. Hold your head high. Stand tall. You were called and you answered. You served in time of war. You saw the horrors of war and you came home...Thank you for serving the greatest country in the world. I salute each one of you."
EAA Chapter 1155 offered Young Eagle Flights to youth aged 8-17 who received parental permission to fly when the cloud ceiling lifted later on Saturday morning. Young Eagle Flights are regularly offered at airport public events.
Kash Helicopter Services provided two helicopters for static display, and flew the large U.S. flag banner during the ceremony.
During the afternoon, several car clubs displayed their vehicles on the airport apron. Most of the car owners just like showing off their restoration talent, and winning one of the unique taxiway light trophies is an added bonus!
The Aero Experience thanks the staff and volunteers at Mount Vernon Outland Airport for dedicating Saturday's activities to honoring Vietnam Veterans. We also congratulate Airport Manager Chris Collins for being inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in the class of 2018.