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‘She’s gorgeous’: Thousands see Memphis Belle exhibit at AF museum

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

Memphis Belle exhibit officially opens

Alison and Chris Hoglan traveled to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force from St. Louis to see a legend reborn Thursday.

The mother and son were in a crowd of hundreds who watched a ribbon-cutting to the new B-17 Memphis Belle exhibit, showcasing the historic bomber’s 25 missions over Europe in World War II and the role of strategic bombing in the U.S. victory.

“She’s gorgeous,” said Alison Hoglan, 57.

Chris Hoglan thought the plane looked like it was in taking off and in mid-flight.

“I really like the way they displayed it with the landing gear up,” he said. “It was worth the trip.”

The Memphis Belle — made famous in two Hollywood films — gained fame as the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States in 1943.

A ribbon-cutting Thursday morning made the opening of the exhibit official after the Belle was revealed in a private ceremony with about 1,000 people and family members of the late crew Wednesday night. And after a formation fly over of the museum Wednesday, four World War II-era planes — two B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, a P-51 Mustang fighter and a PT-19 trainer weer expected to land on the museum airstrip Thursday morning and remain on static display through the day.

P-51 Mustang Ain't Misbehavin' and B-17 Aluminum Overcast at The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The Memphis Belle exhibit opened to the public on Thursday after a 13-year restoration. Staff and volunteers worked 55,000 hours to restore the iconic World War II bomber. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Thomas Harrington, 12, a fan of the Memphis Belle, traveled with his family from Northhampton, England to help cut the ribbon Thursday in front of the famous bomber. “It’s amazing how they have restored it in such good condition,” he said.

Linda Morgan, 72, of Crane Hill, Ala., and widow of Robert Morgan Sr., got a first look at the restored bomber in Wednesday night’s ceremony. The Belle, she said, “took her breath away.”

“I’ve seen pictures of that plane when it was in tatters and this, it looks better than when it came out of the factory,” she said in an interview with reporters.

The B-17 Memphis Belle was unveiled in a private ceremony Wednesday and opened to the public Thursday. MICHAEL BURIANEK / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Brian Pecon, president of the Memphis Belle Memorial Association, had waited decades for the moment. The Belle was brought to the museum in 2005 from Tennessee after a fund-raising attempt failed to meet its goal to fully restore and display the plane in Memphis.

RELATED: ‘It took my breath away’: Memphis Belle unveiled at AF museum

“When they dropped that curtain yesterday it was truly awe-inspiring,” Pecon said Thursday. “It didn’t bring tears, but was a great emotional release.”

Glenn Legnon, 72, trekked from Lebanon, Tennessee, to see the spectacle.

“I think it was a good decision (to move the plane to the museum) because the aircraft had deteriorated so much in Memphis,” he said. “It took them from 2005 until now to get it restored.”

Visitors gather for a private viewing of the Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress," at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wednesday, May 16, 2018, in Dayton, Ohio. The World War II bomber Memphis Belle is set to go on display for the first time since getting a yearslong restoration at the museum. The B-17 “Flying Fortress” will be introduced Thursday morning as the anchor of an extensive exhibit in the Dayton-area museum’s World War II gallery.(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Since 2005, aircraft restorers and volunteers have painstakingly researched and labored to restore the famed aircraft to its wartime look, said museum director John “Jack” Hudson.

Parts of the museum grounds look like a military encampment with more than 160 re-enacters and dozens of military and civilian vehicles as part of festivities through Saturday.

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Military base water safety questions remain as fight for study continues

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 5:29 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 3:30 PM


            Congressman Mike Turner
Congressman Mike Turner

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers have called on the U.S. EPA leader to release a chemical pollution study that reportedly shows lower threshold levels for groundwater contamination that could impact more than a hundred military bases, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but the head of the agency said he doesn’t have the authority to release the study.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, in his own letter this month, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from California to Massachusetts in a separate letter, urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to release the study after Politico, citing newly released emails, reported the White House and the EPA had sought to block the public release of the U.S. Health and Human Services report because “it would cause a public relations nightmare.”

But in a response to Turner’s letter and the other congressional leaders, Pruitt wrote this week the Health and Human Services agency had the right to release the research findings, but “the EPA does not have the authority to release this study.”

Turner now has urged HHS Secretary Alex Azar to release the report.

RELATED: Turner urges EPA administrator to release chemical pollution study

Chemical substances known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been found in the groundwater at Wright-Patterson and near a Dayton firefighting training site on McFadden Avenue. The material, commonly found in many household items, also was found in an old formula of firefighting foam sprayed at both sites.

Authorities say the water in the Dayton distribution system is safe to drink, and the substances have not been found in water delivered to consumers.

“Administrator Pruitt’s letter made it clear that the EPA is not currently blocking the release of the study on PFAS, although it did not indicate whether it had sought to block this release previously,” Turner said in a statement.

“The release of this study is a public health and safety issue for every community with a military installation, including mine,” Turner, whose district includes Wright-Patterson, wrote to Azar. The EPA has set a lifetime health advisory exposure level of 70 parts per trillion.

“If this study finds, as reported, that this is no longer an accurate level of safety for our water, Congress and our constituents need to know immediately so we can begin to address it,” Turner added.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement Wednesaday to this news outlet: “Keeping information from people about the health and safety of their water is disgraceful. The EPA and HHS must release this report immediately and work with the Air Force and the city of Dayton to ensure the water is safe.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement Wednesday: “(It’s) important to ensure EPA’s health advisories are up to date and reflect the best available science and information. The EPA and HHS should release this report immediately to ensure that the men and women serving our country, as well as our communities supporting them, are drinking clean, safe water.”

The EPA was part of a national leadership summit Tuesday that sought to address PFAS concerns around the nation. The federal agency reportedly barred some members of the press while Pruitt was speaking.

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In a May 18 letter, 13 House representatives on both sides of the political aisle from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington state, had asked Pruitt to release the report. The lawmakers noted studies have linked the substances to cancer, thyroid disease, increased cholesterol, and fertility issues, among health concerns.

The group also sent a letter to Azar, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, who was among those who co-signed the document.

“It’s a little hard for me that (Pruitt) won’t act to have the report released when he seems to have the authority to block the report,” he said Wednesday, referring to published reports. State policy makers especially could use the data to set contamination threshold levels, Kildee said.

“It ought to be out there,” he said. “We’ve seen this happen too many times.”

His district includes Flint, which has faced an ongoing drinking water crisis related to lead contamination.

The Department of Defense has identified 126 military installations that showed the chemical substances in excess of the EPA’s lifetime exposure advisory threshold where the firefighting foam was sprayed, lawmakers said.

The Health and Human Services study, known as the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “concluded that PFOS and PFOA can cause human harm at a much lower level of exposure than previously acknowledged by EPA,” the lawmakers said.

City of Dayton officials have urged Wright-Patterson to take more aggressive action to prevent tainted groundwater migrating off base and potentially threatening groundwater pumping wells along the Mad River. Base authorities say they have installed monitoring wells to track where a contamination plume is headed and have pointed to the city’s firefighting training site as a possible source of contamination.

As a precaution, the city of Dayton closed several production wells along the Mad River.

Wright-Patterson built a $2.7 million groundwater treatment plant to reopen two drinking water production wells that had been closed because they had exceeded health advisory levels.

Brown’s office said the senator will offer an amendment to an upcoming defense bill for the Air Force to reimburse the city of Dayton for costs incurred with dealing with tracking and dealing with the potential contamination.

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Remembering the fallen: Roll call event Wednesday at AF museum

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 1:00 PM


            Taps was played May 26, 2016, by bugler Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Przytula, Air Force Band of Flight, during the 2016 Roll Call Memorial Service in the outdoor Memorial Park at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This year’s ceremony is at 9 a.m. May 23 and is open to the public. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ted Pitts)
Taps was played May 26, 2016, by bugler Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Przytula, Air Force Band of Flight, during the 2016 Roll Call Memorial Service in the outdoor Memorial Park at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This year’s ceremony is at 9 a.m. May 23 and is open to the public. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ted Pitts)

An annual memorial roll call reciting the names of 2,800 fallen service members from the region is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 23, in Memorial Park on the grounds of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Gold Star family member Catherine Beers-Conrad, an Air Force veteran whose father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jack Beers, was killed in action in Vietnam, will speak at the ceremony.

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Gold Star family member Alejandron Villalva, who had a relative who died as a prisoner of war in Germany, will be a keynote speaker, organizers said.

The ceremony honors fallen service members since World War II in a 10-county region.

The 711th Human Performance Wing and 88th Air Base Wing will co-sponsor the public ceremony.

If inclement weather occurs, the gathering will take place at the Prairies Chapel and Religious Education Facility, 682 Chapel Lane.

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Services set for local 100-year-old who survived Pearl Harbor

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 5:30 AM


            Frank M. Ruby, who died last month at age 100, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Ruby had awakened on a Navy fuel oil barge as the attack started. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Frank M. Ruby, who died last month at age 100, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Ruby had awakened on a Navy fuel oil barge as the attack started. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Frank Ruby, a 100-year-old survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who died last month, will have a memorial service Friday, May 25, at the Memorial Hall in Dayton.

Ruby, a retired Navy chief petty officer, died April 29 at age 100.

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The Vandalia man spoke to this newspaper in 2016 about his surviving the massive Japanese aerial assault on the U.S. fleet that brought the United States into World War II.

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“The bombers were close to the water and I could see (pilots’) faces,” said Ruby, who was aboard an oil barge laden with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. “I thought this is going to be my last day.”

Services are set for 6 p.m. Friday at Memorial Hall 125 E. First St., Dayton.

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New leader to take over Air Force agency at Wright-Patt

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 5:00 AM

Brig. Gen Alice Trevino. CONTRIBUTED
Brig. Gen Alice Trevino. CONTRIBUTED

A new leader will take command of the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency.

Brig. Gen. Alice Trevino will assume leadership Wednesday of the agency’s Wright-Patterson headquarters with more than 700 employees and oversight of about $9.1 billion in annual spending obligations, according to Wright-Patterson.

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Trevino will replace Brig. Gen. Cameron Holt, who will become the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition at the Pentagon.

Trevino, an Air Force Academy graduate, was the principal military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense.

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