New England Air Museum hosts tribute to veterans
By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Nov. 14, 2013
The New England Air Museum held its annual tribute to veterans on Sunday, Nov. 10. This event gives the public the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with a veteran who served his or her country.
The youngest veteran in the hangar that day was Staff Sgt. Luis Saco, a helicopter mechanic in the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard. Saco said, in fact, he has never been home on Veterans Day since joining the military. “This Veterans Day has been the first time I have been home and not deployed,” he said. Saco was joined by other veterans who had been a part of Vietnam, the Korean conflict and World War II.
Being in the museum hangar with about 20 other veterans was a moving experience for Saco. “Sharing it with vets from different wars, it’s been very a special one – probably the most special one yet,” he said.
First Lt. Ernest Treff from Groton, Conn., was part of the 61st Fighter Squadron. He flew eight different kinds of fighter planes in the war, some of which were probably in the museum.
First Lt. Robert Lyons of New Haven, Conn., flew the B-29 Superfortress his entire time in the Air Force from 1943 to 1946. “We flew several successful 12-hour bombing missions from Tinian to Japan and flew the 17-hour “Show of Force” mission over Tokyo on VJ Day,” he said.
Thomas Pandolfi from Woodstock, Conn., recalled some of his time in Thailand and Cambodia in the early 1960s. “I spent over 28 months in the jungles of these countries with predetermined locations and contacts,” he said. “Near the end of my last tour, our team failed to meet up with our contact team and we failed to enter the country of Vietnam.” Pandolfi jokingly says he never wants to camp again. Pandolfi was one of President Kennedy’s original 5,000 Green Beret troops.
One of the tables gaining a lot of attention was the table which displayed the World War I collection of Alan Crane. He and three of his friends came to the event in World War I uniform – and showed off what the state-of-the-art weapons, uniform and gear for that time period. “There aren’t WWI vets left alive,” said Crane. “We do this to honor the veterans and the men who are no longer around.”
This is an annual event held by the museum and is organized in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, AMVETS, the Connecticut National Guard Service Member and Family Support Center and the New Haven Vet Center, a mobile veteran help center. For more information, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305.