War Bird Salute honors WWII veterans


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. - Vintage World War II planes flew in from all over the country for a weekend-long salute to our veterans.

It is called a War Bird Salute and it gives a chance for our area WWII heroes to go back in time and see the planes helped shape our nation.

Chris Herrmann knows what it feels like to fly a vintage monster-plane.

"It's like being transported back 70 years in a heartbeat," said Herrmann.

He co-pilots the historic B-25, the aircraft made famous after the "Doolittle Raid."

"In 1942 after the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor we decided to strike back. So they loaded 16 of these airplanes under the command of Col. Jimmy Dolittle, put them on a carrier, sailed most of the way to Japan, then they bombed Japan for the first time," said Herrmann.

Want-to-be-pilots could not get enough of the propellers and cockpits on Friday.

"When I looked at the pilot part, I looked at the steering wheel, it looked a little weird," said a young air show-goer named Aiden.

While the little ones pretended they could fly, World War II veteran Howard Aufracht remembered barely escaping a bomb that was dropped by the Japanese out of a plane just like the one he admired on Friday.

"I started running back to the fox hole and as I went down the street, one of the bombs came down behind me, made a hole you could have put a jeep in. I got to the fox hole and the boys grabbed me and pulled me in," said Aufracht.

Herrmann says it is veterans like Aufracht that keep his passion for flying alive.

"You can almost see the years peel back in their eyes as they start remembering things," said Herrmann.

The air show will continue into Saturday at the Williamson County Airport in Marion.

Admission to that show will be $10 and runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

They will be offering free plane rides to children with a signed consent form from parents.