Saturday, July 05, 2014

Pilots fly B-25 in honor of past Marines

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -  A little known piece of World War Two history is being preserved by pilots in East Texas who will never forget the cost of freedom. The B-25 bomber they continue to fly was part of the devil dog squadron, flown by the Marine Corps.

It was a surplus World War Two bomber that the army and navy turned over to the Marine Corps. The B-25 went on to serve well in the Marine PBJ devil dog squadron.

"Its a great honor to fly this. It's a very easy airplane to fly, very stable, rides turbulence good," says pilot Mark Fredrick.

The commemorative air force flies this craft in honor of the Marines who fought in it.

"That’s really part of our mission is to keep this history alive to present the airplane to the public and remind the public that the cost of freedom isn't free," says co-pilot Hart Van Meter.

In flight, there’s deafening noise with cramped quarters, but pilots think of the men who flew it.

"There were 3 airplanes in that bomber group that never came back," Fredrick says.

With a top speed of 200 miles per hour, it wasn't particularly fast. So, the Marines turned to night missions.

"The number 3 ship went out on it's 23rd mission, and didn't come back and they've never found the wreckage," Fredrick says.

They keep this one flying, in memory of that number 3 ship.

"It took the sacrifice of a lot of people in aircraft like this just so we could say hey we're free today, and we get to celebrate this glorious day," Van Meter says.

The devil dog B-25 is in Tyler to perform at the 'Thunder over Cedar Creek' air show Saturday. Rides can be purchased Saturday and Sunday.

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