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Air show recognizes veterans

Saturday, May 23, 2009 | 7:07 p.m. CDT; updated 9:17 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 23, 2009
One of the AeroShell T-6 Demonstration Team planes takes off at the Salute to Veterans AIr Show on Saturday at the Columbia Regional Airport.

COLUMBIA — Saturday's Salute to Veterans Air Show featured screaming jets and blaring rock music, which were halted for a few moments so that military veterans could be recognized.

The show, held at Columbia Regional Airport as part of the 21st Annual Salute to Veterans Memorial Day Weekend Celebration, will be held a second time on Sunday.

As in past years, the action was halted briefly in the middle of the show to hold a solemn ceremony for veterans, during which honored guests were recognized, the 225 names listed on the Veterans Memorial at the Boone County Courthouse were read aloud and a 21-gun salute was conducted.

Many of those in attendance to the show stopped what they were doing during the ceremony out of respect for the memorial. Service members, both active and retired, raised their hands in salute when the shots rang out. 

This year’s honored guests included members of the Heart of America chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Women Air Force Service Pilots and other veterans, who were led to a stage in the center of the event by the Boone County Fire Protection District Bagpipers.

Arnold Fields, a retired major general in the U.S. Marine Corps, was one of the guests recognized this year. Fields is the special inspector general of Afghanistan Reconstruction, a position that reports to both the secretary of defense and the secretary of state.

Fields said he felt “humbled” by the recognition he received at the event.

“Events like this just put all that we do in the right perspective,” he said.

William Bond, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, was also feeling humble.

“The real heroes are the ones that didn’t come back,” Bond said.

Columbia residents attended the show for a variety of reasons.

Shannon Keaton said she has a brother-in-law in the Navy who is stationed in the Middle East and she attended the event “to show respect” for veterans.

“It definitely makes us proud to live in this country,” she said of the event.

Jeff Ebbert, who has taken flight lessons before, said he came down to the show because it was a nice day and he “loves planes.”

“Especially that one,” he said gesturing toward the runway as an A-10 Warthog lifted off for its demonstration.

On display were some of the aircraft that accompanied American soldiers into battle throughout the past century. Planes tore through the sky for most of the day; some were used by the military as early as World War I and some, such as the A-10 Warthog, are in commission today.

A demonstration of simpler technology used by the U.S. Army K-9 Corps from Fort Leonard Wood also drew hundreds.

In the demonstration, Sgt. Kyle Louks, dressed in a jacket resistant to a dog’s teeth, pretended to try to attack a fellow serviceman. Bodo, a German shepherd trained for attack, pounced on Louks, taking him down to the ground.    

After the demonstration, Louks said that despite all the technological advances made by the military, a dog’s nose is still one of their most advanced tools in terms of law enforcement and explosives detection.

“There’s nothing that can top it,” he said, still out of breath from the demonstration.

Outside the show, members of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks stood holding banners with messages such as “Bring Them Home” and “Real Support.”

Mark Haim, director of Peaceworks, said the members were not there to protest veterans, but to promote a “rethinking” about U.S. foreign policy.

“Memorial Day is about honoring the loss of life that war causes,” Haim said. “And our feeling is that the loss of life that war causes can best be addressed by preventing future deaths and future wars.”

 

 


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Comments

Betty Acree May 26, 2009 | 5:17 p.m.

I can not help wondering how many services could be provided to veterans, if all the money spent on the airshow were used to buy medical care, housing, and food for the many traumatized veterans returning from the wars.

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