Gladewater CAP Members Escort Veterans to Wings of Freedom
by CAPT. HAROLD PARKS, CAP
Mar 28, 2013 | 1168 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Figure 1: Waiting for All to be Unloaded.
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Gladewater, Texas- On Friday, March 15, 2013 members of the Gladewater Corsairs Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol escorted nine disabled veterans from the Watkins-Logan Texas State Veterans Home in Tyler, Texas to the Wings of Freedom event at Tyler’s Pounds Field.  Of particular interest to the veterans were four World War 2 aircraft that had flown in for the event (Figures 1, 2.)



 Several of the veterans who planned on attending the event were veterans of World War 2 and were most anxious to see these rare birds. One fellow, who had served in the Army Air Corps in the 1940’s, was particularly interested in seeing an extremely rare Messerschmitt 262 (ME 262) which was scheduled to visit. This type of aircraft was the first operational jet fighter ever utilized in war. Although the aircraft which arrived was a replica (we were later told,) it was hard to believe as it appeared to be quite original down to the German signs painted at various places on the fuselage. Maintenance access doors and safety cautions on the aircraft were all identified in German (Figure 3.)



 “Our veterans” seemed to have a great time. They were very friendly and outgoing, full of spirit and stories about their time in service. Several different service branches were represented and it was interesting watching individual veterans gravitate towards museum aircraft which had been used in their specific service (Figures 4, 5.) The Vietnam veterans were particularly drawn to a Huey helicopter on display and many stories of service on or in them were shared. We also enjoyed tales shared by docents working at the museum who had had similar experiences during their time in service (Figure 6.)



 After being wheeled around the outdoor aircraft displays and the visiting WW2 aircraft, the veterans indicated that they had seen what they hoped for and really enjoyed their visit.  The breeze outside, though wonderful for our members, began to chill these old warriors and they wanted to get out of it. They waited very patiently for everyone to gather inside and then it was time to head back home. We were thanked profusely by these gentlemen and one lady. They were asking if we could arrange to come to visit them at the Veterans Home as they had enjoyed our conversations. We explained to them that we were honored to be in their presence and grateful for the opportunity. Finally, we thanked them for their service to our Country and their bus departed the Airport (Figure 7.)



 Looking back on the event now, it was really a lot of fun visiting with them. The veterans had a great sense of humor and there was a lot of kidding going on. We and they were smiling nearly all of the time and they especially enjoyed meeting and talking to our cadets. The cadets too really enjoyed talking to whatever veteran they were assigned to assist. We are definitely considering a visit to the Veterans Home sometime in the future- probably after school is out for the summer.



 Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 71 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, www.capvolunteernow.com, hparksc23@gmail.com or phone 903-762-1133 for more information.



 Squadron members attending included:



 Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Davis



Captain Harold Parks



Second Lieutenant Kayla Sartor



Cadet Second Lieutenant Matt Brown



Cadet Master Sargent Grace Fork



Cadet Technical Sargent Seth Grimes



Cadet Airman First Class Hagen Brooks



Cadet Airman Keaton Keys



Cadet Airman Basic Cody Sammons



 We were also joined by Captain Karl Falken of the Gregg County Composite Squadron

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