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Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 8:42 PM
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The reborn Memphis Belle was unveiled Wednesday night before hundreds including the families of crewmen who flew the famed Army Air Forces bomber into history.
Under theatrical lighting and uplifted above the ground by three metal poles, the Memphis Belle was surrounded by a strategic bombing exhibit with cases filled with artifacts, many personal items of the crewmen who flew aboard the four-engine bomber on the perilous journeys.
Robert K. Morgan Jr., 72, of San Francisco, son of the late pilot Robert K. Morgan who died in 2004, wore his father’s silver wings and a bracelet he kept during the war.
“It means everything to me and my family that he’s here in spirit,” he said. “It’s just one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.”
The Memphis Belle made history as the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to survive 25 bombing missions over Germany and occupied France and return to the United States in 1943.
Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, Air Force director of staff and a keynote speaker at the unveiling, said the iconic bomber was at its final duty station and stood as both a symbol of the sacrifice of thousands of airmen in the skies of Europe and the might of the American industry in World War II that produced more than 300,000 aircraft during the war.
“It’s almost overwhelming. It’s almost tearful,” she said of the unveiling of the plane. “When the curtain came down and you saw her and the thousands of hours it took to restore her back to life. She is serving her final duty station to educate America on the sacrifices that our Army Air Corps men and women had in World War II.”
Linda Morgan, 72, of Crane Hill, Ala., and widow of Robert Morgan Sr., said the restored bomber “took my 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.
Since 2005, restorers and volunteers have labored over 55,000 hours to restore the famed aircraft to its wartime look.
“After all the years, we’re almost there,” museum curator Jeff Duford said hours before the unveiling. “It’s almost surreal.”
“…What we get from this is an iconic touchstone that people can learn from,” said museum historian Doug Lantry.
Catherine Wyler, daughter of film director William Wyler who produced a 1944 documentary on the Belle and herself was a co-producer of a 1990 movie about the plane, appeared at the Belle’s debut.
“I think it’s fabulous … this is such a dramatic way to show it,”said Wyler, of Washington, D.C. “… I have a very sentimental attachment, not only because of my father, but also because of the film I made.”
Three B-17s and five P-51s flew over the museum in formation Wednesday in a salute to the World War II bomber.
A public ribbon-cutting for the Belle and a new exhibit of personal artifacts of the crewmen, part of a strategic bombing exhibit, was set for Thursday, the 75th anniversary of the crews final mission.
MUST-READ MILITARY STORIES
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 10:08 AM
— The U.S. Air Force just rolled out its new enlisted personnel handbook, and it’s changing up the way enlisted airmen will address senior master sergeants.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright announced the changes on Facebook. The Air Force no longer requires an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force as a promotion requirement for master sergeants.
» TRENDING: GE awarded $437 million contract at Wright-Patt
“One of the biggest changes you’ll see, one that we’re also working to codify in our other AFIs, comes in para 184.108.40.206. An Associate’s Degree from the CCAF is no longer a promotion requirement,” Wright said.
New changes also address the way airmen address their top enlisted leaders. Airmen may address E-8s as “senior” or “sergeant” now, according to the handbook. The handbook defines the enlisted force structure and implements policy. This new handbook replaces the 2009 Air Force rules. View the handbook here.
» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: 10 major updates at Wright-Patt that happened in June
“To all the Seniors who’ve been telling people to stop using Senior, apparently now you’re officially a Senior, Senior,” one airmen commented on Wright’s announcement.
The changes are part of an initiative to address dated amendments.
FIVE FAST READS
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 6:39 PM
The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center lost more than $90,000 in equipment between 2014 and 2017, according to a new investigation.
Dayton VA Public Affairs Officer Ted Froats said the number, which equates to about $22,500 a year, represents a fraction of the Dayton VA’s yearly inventory — around .0002 percent.
“The reality of running a 24/7 hospital with 500,000 outpatient visits a year is that that’s probably as close to zero as we can reasonably get,” Froats told this news organization in an email.
VA facilities across the country lost more than $1 million in that time period, according to a WBNS-10TV investigation.
In Dayton, a total of $90,305 was lost.
John Hoellwarth, the national director of communications for AMVETS, said veterans deserve accountability regardless of the value.
“Whether it’s $1 million or $1.50, veterans deserve a VA that’s accountable,” Hoellwarth said.
Froats said that from 2015 to 2016, the Dayton VA cut their lost equipment per year in half, and the organization continued that progress into 2017.
The Dayton VA lost the least amount of equipment of the centers that were investigated. In Columbus, the VA facility lost $318,068.38; in Chillicothe, that number was $279,912.45.
The losses came even after the VA spent $24 million in Ohio to attach tracking devices to some equipment. The tracking devices, also known as real-time location systems or RTLS, either ping out a device’s location or allow a VA employee to scan for the items to keep track of them, according to the investigation.
That doesn’t mean the devices will always work. According to records obtained as part of the investigation, the Dayton VA hired a contractor in 2014 to do an inventory of its equipment inventory listings, but the contractor left more than 1,000 items out of the inventory.
According to the records, the individuals that installed the RTLS in Dayton “did not perform well” and some of the devices were shown as being in rooms other than what they were, making the RTLS useless in the facility’s search for the lost items.
Records noted that the VA expected to find most or all of the missing equipment with the next inventory.
“It is our belief these items are not stolen and should be identified when the next wall-to-wall inventory is conducted,” the report reads.
Froats said theft isn’t always the cause of losses, and items like stretchers or infusion pumps that travel with patients and can be mixed up in other units or even another hospital.
Froats said the Dayton VA prides itself on keeping track of its equipment.
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 9:05 AM
— The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been roaring through the skies for 65 years.
The Thunderbirds are celebrating its 65th year of representing the U.S. Air Force. On May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The unit was named the “Thunderbirds” in part because of the strong Native American culture in Arizona.
» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: USAF Thunderbirds: News Center 7 gets rare look at training grounds
The first demonstration team flew and maintained the F-84G Thunderjet. “The straight-wing configuration of the F-84G was considered well suited for aerobatic and demonstration maneuvers, though the aircraft could not exceed the speed of sound,” according to the Thunderbirds team.
The Thunderbirds have traded aircraft throughout the years, flying the F-84F Thunderstreak, the F-105B Thunderchief, the F-100Ds and the F-16.
» TRENDING COVERAGE: Blue Angels thrill Dayton crowd with performance
The Thunderbirds did not fly at the Vectren Dayton Air Show this year. Military jet teams like the Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels are the biggest draw for the air show and organizers bank on their appearance to bring tens of thousands to the grounds at James M. Cox Dayton International Airport. The show can draw as many as 65,000 or more spectators when the teams fly, officials say.
In 2016, the Thunderbirds crashed prior to the Dayton Air Show, and injured Pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves and Tactical Aircraft Maintainer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova. The F-16 sustained significant damage, and the Thunderbirds cancelled all performances at the air show.
WATCH the Thunderbirds commemorate 65 years.
FIVE FAST READS
Published: Thursday, July 05, 2018 @ 10:53 AM
— Verizon’s new military discount program could save you hundreds of dollars every year.
Last week, Verizon launched its new program — active military, veterans and Gold Star families are eligible to save up to $40 every month on their cellphone plans. The deal offers $15 off regular monthly prices on one phone plan. It also offers $30 off on two lines or $40 off on three lines under Verizon’s unlimited plans.
» TRENDING: Sears to close 10 more Kmart, Sears locations
3 times men were connected to terror plots in Ohio https://t.co/RdZvbwHsDH— WHIO-TV (@whiotv) July 2, 2018
Military families can receive a $200 Mastercard prepaid card when activating a new 4G LTE smartphone on a new line of service, according to the company.
To get the military discount, simply login to your account and choose the unlimited plans you need.
FIVE FAST READS