B-17 “Flying Fortress” Dedication Honors WWII Veterans
On Wednesday, January 28, we were privileged to join more than 400 civilians, veterans, and active duty servicemen and women who attended the B-17 “City of Savannah” plane dedication ceremony at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, GA. The dedication of the B-17 was a culmination of six years of work by a team of almost 50 restoration experts and volunteers, following a decade-long search to find the World War II bomber. The B-17 plane, also known as a “Flying Fortress,” was given to the Mighty Eighth Museum by the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The B-17 is the primary aircraft our founder, Ellison Miles, flew during his 25 WWII missions over Europe between 1942-1944. To be able to see this plane restored to its original flying condition gave us a glimpse into what it might have been like for the young men who flew these planes 70 years ago – through burning flak, with no pressurized cabins, and amidst the ear-piercing sound of bullets reverberating through steel.
To say that the experience was humbling is an understatement. It was an honor to be a part of this day, which was expertly executed to pay tribute to the WWII soldiers and their service.
The dedication opened with the Presentation of the Colors by the Georgia Air National Guard, which provided a sobering backdrop for the ceremony. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, and invocation, we heard from the current Eighth Air Force Commander, Major General Scott Vander Hamm.
His speech illuminated the bravery and heroism of the men who fought in WWII, as he emphasized the many technological advances that they did not have at their disposal. He referenced the crews’ lack of oxygen while flying at 20,000 feet, due to unpressurized cabins. He spoke about the incredible challenge of not only warding off German fighters on their way to drop their bombs, but then all the way back to home base.
The General made it clear that flying during WWII was not for the faint of heart, and he asked for the WWII veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized. Many of the veterans in attendance wore their bomber jackets with insignia reflecting their respective crews and aircrafts.
The men rose to an enthusiastic round of applause. In that moment, we were filled with pride for the heroic accomplishments of these men, and the great sacrifice they made to protect our country and our freedoms. We remembered Ellison Miles and all of the WWII soldiers who could not be with us. We also recognized the current sacrifice that our active duty soldiers are making today.
It was a proud day for the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and a very special day for the Foundation. Congratulations to the Museum for preserving a significant piece of history that will honor our WWII veterans for many years to come.