by Bob Alvis, special for Aerotech News
Many years ago, there was a public service announcement that aired on television, featuring a Native American (played by Iron Eyes Cody) who shed a single poignant tear while watching garbage being thrown along. an American highway.
Sadly, we still find that after all these years, we don’t do much better when it comes to how we maintain not only our nation’s natural resources, but the many elements that make up our American pride landscape. .
Last weekend, as I was looking for some of that American pride in honor of 9/11 victims, one of my stops made me feel a bit like Iron Eyes from years ago. . I discovered that a point of pride for anyone who served at Victorville Army Airfield / George Air Force Base had been visited by a pride thief. This unnamed individual put himself above others by degrading the symbol of honorable service rendered by thousands of men and women – generations who were proud to serve the country by keeping those old warbirds in the air, to when they were our first line of defense and the âtip of the spearâ.
Many would attribute this to an evolving culture where we would look the other way and say, âIt’s just an old plane and who really cares? These vintage display airplanes symbolize the military service of yesteryear, and that story doesn’t really mean anything to the generation who for all intents and purposes don’t learn history, or just don’t care about these. relics of the past and what they represent.
An old F-4 on display pays homage to the service of many: men and women, ground crews, support personnel, pilots, weapons officers. For many years they have been a part of the history and history of this old bird. He doesn’t have a soul or a heartbeat, but he has something that keeps him alive: he got us. He can’t feel the pain of what we’re seeing here, but we do, and we just shake our heads and wonder why.
When someone retires, many times at a retirement party, people share that person’s story to give those who are not “in the know” a bit of history as to why that person is. worthy of admiration. This old warbird needs someone to champion his cause, share his story, and show why he should be respected. So let me take the podium for a few minutes and share the story of what an old F-4 on a pedestal did, while America went about its daily chores. His story is in his assignments and in the end, how can we not respect his career and the thousands of hands that have accompanied or kept him in the air?
The history of the McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II 63-7519 – its missions from delivery to display:
- June 1964-July 1964: 15th Tactical Fighter Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
- July 1964-Sept. 1964: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.
- Sept. 1964-Oct. 1964: 15th Tactical Fighter Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
- October 1964-July 1965: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.
- July 1965-August. 1965: Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California.
- August 1965-Sept. 1965: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.
- September 1965-Feb. 1966: Combat Crew Training Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
- February 1966: 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, California.
- February 1966: 479th TFW, George AFB, California.
- March 1966-Oct. 1966: 366th TFW, Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam
- Oct 1966-Sep 1967: 366th TFW, Da Nang AB, South Vietnam
- Sept. 1967-April 1968: Camn Rahn Bay AB, South Vietnam
- April 1968-Dec. 1969: 347th TFW, Yokota AB, Japan
- Dec. 1969-Oct. 1971: 479th TFW, George AFB, California.
- Oct 1971-Feb. 1972: 35th TFW, George AFB, California.
- February 1972-July 1982: 58th TFW, Luke AFB, Arizona.
- July 1982-March 1983: MD Tulsa, Okla.
- March 1983-July 1986: TFG, March AFB, California.
- July 1986: Battle Damage Trainer, George AFB, California.
- Oct. 1989: Display, George AFB, California.
- Nov. 2016: Restored, on display, George AFB, California.
The respect! Respect for an old warbird who has done more for its crews and pilots than we as a nation could ever have hoped for. If it were a human it would have been grazed many years before it became a court art in honor of the thousands of people who made it live and breathe in peacetime and in war.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what it will take to stop an aerosol can that intends to degrade a memorial because I’m sure the writers are laughing at a tear-eyed old man who sees this old man. bird as a reminder of those heroes who gave years of their lives (and some, their lives) to say to America, âThis is my gift to you and all the freedoms you enjoy. I won’t be coming back to my deathbed these days, but for you and your children it’s a price we’re willing to pay.
He’s “just an old warbird,” but by God the old 63-7519 deserves better. I will say that thanks to the volunteers, the attempt to keep the old maid relevant will continue in a society that will never be able to understand what an incredible story of perseverance and service to the country looks like, when it comes to a silent bird that carries the voices of past generations and shares them with the winds of the High Desert.
George Air Force Base, 1975-1979: Proud to have helped keep the mission going, as an old three band sergeant who loved those old F-4s.
Until next time, Bob outside …