Several thousand are believed to have attended the event at Fox Stephens Field-Gilmer Municipal Airport.
Lt. Col. Phillip Maywald, USAF (ret.), the honored guest, used his remarks to express appreciation for the preparation he received in Gilmer High School for his future career.
First, he recognized many of his Borden and Maywald relatives in the audience.
“When I went to the Latch Baptist Church, of the 60 there, I think 50 were my relatives,” Maywald told the assemblage.
His mother now lives in Texarkana, where he stayed the night before.
His grandfather, Clyde Borden, died the summer before high school, and Maywald came to live with his grandmother, Nola Borden.
“I want to say thank you to Henry McClelland, Mrs. Eunice Hart, Mrs. Elizabeth Crosby, Coach Truitt Rattan and my principal, Leonard Pickitt,” Maywald told the group.
“They taught me well enough to get in the Air Force Academy with guys who had a couple of years of college or who had come from larger high schools,” the former test pilot explained.
“To be in sports here helped give me the confidence to succeed in life,” he continued.
Today the recipient of the Air Force Cross for actions during the Vietnam War continues to fly and to train pilots in becoming instrument rated. Maywald lives in Tennessee with his wife, Bobby, a native of Mineola.
After the Veterans Day ceremonies, the Buckeye graduate mingled with former classmates and relatives before enjoying the aerial demonstrations.
Following the platform presentations, two A-10 Warthogs and a B-52 flew over, the T-34 Beechcrafts concluded their segment with the Missing Man Formation, and the L-19 Bird Dogs and O-2 flew in mock reenactment of Maywald’s rescue of Major Gerald Dwyer,
In his remarks, Maywald pointed out contacts he had in Vietnam with other Buckeyes; Lt. Gen. John L. Pickitt, Sidney Henson, Manion Mathis, Billy Wayne Manchen, his cousin Micky Wallace who went on to fly with Trans World Airlines, and Carl Bryant.
Even the man he rescued was a classmate of Pickitt.