Military para-troopers, A-10’s and the national anthem, highlighted a celebration of veterans at Parkview Field Friday night. World War II veterans were honored as part of Fort Wayne’s observation of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landind on the beaches of Normandy in 1945.
After recognizing the Thunderbirds pilots and ten local World War II veterans, the singing troupe, Ladies for Liberty, put on a coordinated performance of the National Anthem. As they sang the final note, the first of the Special Command Para-Commandos landed in the outfield with an American flag attached to his parachute and flowing behind him.
“It’s an enormous honor for us,” said Lieutenant Colonel Erin Karl, the public affairs officer for the Special Command Para-Commandos. “A lot of our guys are special operators, you know, Rangers, Green Berets, Seals, and a lot of them tie their lineage to units that participated in Normandy. So, it’s a really big deal for us to come and do something that’s related to what they did on that day.”
Once the three jumpers landed, a squadron of A-10’s from the 122nd Fighter Wing flew over Parkview Field. It all left the World War II veterans there feeling “humbled and honored.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Sergeant First Class Paul Shrader, a World War II veteran. “I’m glad that they’re having it. It’s wonderful.”
“At first, I had to think about it,” Curlis Maux who also served in World War II, said. “I didn’t know if I deserved it.”
Some who were there were not veterans. Shay Wright’s father and grandfather are veterans. He was there to pay his respects.
“There were a lot of dead (at D-Day), but they were not in vain,” Wright said. “They did protect everybody here. They deserve more respect than what they get.”
The night wrapped up with a fireworks display from on top of the Marriot parking garage.
If you missed the Special Command Para-Commandos jump at Parkview Field, they will be jumping at this weekend’s Air Show.