For Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — This year’s Salute to Heroes at the Air Force Museum Theatre will be an entire day of veterans’ stories brought to the big screen along with distinguished speakers. Heroes from the Vietnam era will be the focus of the salute this year, but the audience will also hear from veterans of other conflicts, such as R.A. “Bob” Hoover, David Lee “Tex” Hill and other combat aviators featured in the first segment of the day, a film titled In Their Own Words.
Flying on Demand, a new premiere website for veterans with stories and all things aviation created and introduced by Jon Tennyson and Scott Guyette of Sleeping Dog Productions, will open the salute at 11 a.m. Following that, accomplished aviator Connie Bowlin will speak about Warbirds in Review, a program she and her late husband, Ed Bowlin, founded in 2001. History, through the legendary wartime aircraft and pride of the heroic veterans who flew them, comes alive every year at EAA AirVenture with the popular Warbirds in Review program. For the first time, Warbirds in Review will bring this rich history to the big screen. Screenings of “In Their Own Words” and “Warbirds in Review” will conclude the Salute’s first segment.
After a break for lunch, the salute will resume at 1:30 p.m. with Producer Jon Tennyson speaking about Voices of Valor, another great program to honor veterans and record their stories for future generations. Tennyson will highlight clips from upcoming films in production for the series, two of which will be included in the 2016 schedule, featuring R.A. “Bob” Hoover and Col. Richard Cole, Co-Pilot of Doolittle Raiders B-25 Crew #1. The world premiere of “Welcome Home” will conclude the second segment of the salute, giving Americans a much better understanding of the people who fought the Vietnam War, how they did their jobs and how gallantly they performed. With that understanding, perhaps the troops will finally receive (albeit 40 years after the fact) the welcome home that has so far only been provided one Vietnam Veteran to another.
Medal of Honor Recipient Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (U.S. Army, Ret.) will open the final segment. Brady is considered one of the top helicopter pilots of the Vietnam War, a pioneer of aeromedical evacuation, and recognized by many to be the most highly decorated living veteran. In two tours in Vietnam, Brady flew over 2,500 combat missions and rescued over 5,000 wounded. In January 1964 Brady volunteered for Vietnam and was assigned to the 57th Medical Detachment – Helicopter Ambulance, led by Maj. Charles Kelly, instrumental to the early development of flying techniques for patient rescue in weather and under fire. The unit’s call-sign was “Dust Off,” a cry for help, and became the most famous of all Vietnam call-signs. At the same time, Maj. Kelly was in a battle to save Dust Off from ill-advised Army leadership who sought to use his helicopters for non-life saving missions.
While on a rescue mission on July 1, 1964, Maj. Kelly came under fire. Friendlies screamed to get out. Kelly’s last words, “When I have your wounded,” were uttered as he took a fatal round. Despite efforts to change Dust Off, Kelly’s dying words set the standard for aero-medical evacuation. Thanks to Kelly and his men, Dust Off would rescue some one million soldiers and civilians in Vietnam, setting unmatched lifesaving records. Kelly’s last words are the title of the final film, “When I Have Your Wounded”, an acclaimed documentary on the history of Dust Off. Brady is featured in the film (as well as “Welcome Home”), and will share his personal stories and answer audience questions after the screening.
Brady, who with his daughter Meghan published his memoir, “Dead Men Flying”, will be available for a book signing in the Museum Store upon the conclusion of the Reel Stuff Salute to Heroes. Additionally available for signing will be a new National Aviation Hall of Fame print depicting a Bell UH-1H “Dust Off” Huey Brady flew in 1968. General Brady’s appearance for this event is sponsored by the National Aviation Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 2013.
All day passes and individual tickets are available at the theatre, by visiting www.afmuseum.com or by calling 937-253-4629. The Reel Stuff Salute to Heroes is the last of the 2015 Living History Film Series at the Air Force Museum Theatre.
Story courtesy of the Air Force Museum Foundation.