Airborne heroes honored during Veterans Day ceremony

GEORGETOWN -The Museum of Flight celebrated the men and women that have served our country in the skies around the world with two days of presentations and a special Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the The Museum hosted a panel of pilots who discussed their histories and experiences flying combat missions in the wars and conflicts of the middle of the 20th century. The panel included Maj. Leslie C. Smith, who first entered the Army aviation cadet program in 1941 and was an original member of the 56th Fighter Group. In 1943, Smith went to Britain with Col. Zemke's "Wolfpack," bringing the P-47 Thunderbolt into combat. Over the next two years, Smith scored seven aerial victories, and, after the war, continued to serve in the California Air National Guard until 1962.

Lt. Gen. Charles "Chick" Cleveland, a West Point graduate, sat on the panel as well. Cleveland served in combat during two wars. In the Korean War he flew F-86 fighters and is credited with five aerial victories against MiG-15s. During the Vietnam War, Cleveland served as executive assistant to Gen. William Westmoreland, the commanding general of all allied forces fighting in Vietnam.

Col. John Burgess "J.B." Stone was an F-4 Phantom pilot who flew a total of 157 combat missions during the Vietnam War and the panel's third member. Under Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, Stone was instrumental in the design and planning of Operation Bolo 1, the most successful air-to-air mission of the Vietnam War and one of the most successful missions in military aviation history.

On Sunday, the museum hosted their annual Veterans Day Ceremony. The ceremony ran from noon-3:30 p.m. and included a patriotic performance by the Boeing Employees' Concert Band and special programs for youth, families and adults. Veterans and current members of the United States armed forces received free admission to the Museum on this day.

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