On October 7, 2011, I had the great honor of being inducted into the Commemorative Air Force’s American Combat Airman Hall of Fame. The honor was all the greater because of the other inductees, which included Brigadier General Steve Ritchie, the last American pilot ace, and the only man ever to shoot down 5 MiG 21s, Col.George Spannaus, who had a legendary career as a fighter pilot, flying 239 combat missions; the Ravens Forward Air Control unit, who fought a secret war with great skill and courage in Laos and 2nd Lt. Orville Miller a combat pilot in WW II.
The event was done very well, with lots of guests, and a fantastic air show featuring the Commemorative Air Force’s fleet of World War II aircraft. The only flying Boeing B-29, “FiFi” looked better than ever as it made passes over the field, and the re-enactment of the Pearl Harbor attack was never better.
I was fortunate to be with good friends Ollie Crawford and Ken Fields and their beautiful wives, and was given wonderful escort service by the ever obliging Gene Dickerson. Terri had a great time, and we were joined by my grandson, J.D. (Dana) Teague, now a powerfully built 6 foot 4 inch encyclopedia of knowledge!
My friends and colleagues (and wife Terri) said that my acceptance speech was too short, but it was not, for I could not bring myself to on and on about my flying in the light of the other inductees. Steve Ritchie made his usual good acceptance speech, as did Harry Spannaus and Ed Gunter for the Ravens. Sadly, Lt. Miller was not well enough to attend.
The air show was brilliant, with a big parade to start, one featuring about 50 Corvettes from every year, and with the inductees leading the parade. The gleaming World War II aircraft–bombers, fighters, trainers, transports, everything, looked good in the rain at first and even better when the sun came out.
All in all it was a great time, and much appreciated not only by the inductees and their families, but by the huge crowd that attended. The ceermony was all the more meaningful because of the solemn procedural ceremony accorded those missing in action or prisoners of war.