Monday, April 08, 2013

Yeager Airport unveils veteran memorial project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Twenty Air National Guard members who died 62 years ago in one of the worst air tragedies in southern West Virginia are being honored in a living memorial at Yeager Airport

The special project, which aims to recognize contributions of West Virginia veterans, features photographs in the baggage claim area for the Wall of Honor. The wall was unveiled Monday, with the 130th Air Guard Honor Guard displaying post and retire colors. 

The focal point of the first display is a tragic chapter of Yeager Airport's own history.

In 1951, an Air National Guard transport plane clipped the top of a hill and crashed about 10 miles north of Charleston. Nineteen servicemen immediately died; two others died later of their severe burns. Twenty of the 21 were from West Virginia.

The servicemen were flying home from Godman Air Base in Fort Knox, Ky., for the funeral of Major Woodford "Jock" Sutherland, who had been piloting an airplane in Florida that had gone the wrong direction on a taxiway and ended in a ground collision between two F-51 fighter planes.

"This event has big ties to the community," said Tim Murnahan, assistant director of the Yeager Airport. "It's altogether fitting and proper for this flight group to be our first showcase of photos on the 62nd anniversary of the crash."

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