By Judie Ohm, EAA 1141198
To celebrate 50 consecutive years of fly-in conventions in Oshkosh, we’re featuring stories of Oshkosh told by attendees remembering their special moments at EAA’s long-standing home. If you or someone you know would like to share your own story of Oshkosh, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My book, Turret Tales, would never have been written if it hadn’t been for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2010.
For several years we have camped at Oshkosh. One of the times we came upon a ball turret in the AirVenture Welcome Center, and my friend Doug Ward showed it to me. He said, “That’s what I rode in, on a B-17 in World War II.” About 10 people behind us heard him say that and started asking questions: “Were you ever scared?” “How often did you ride in it?” “How many missions?”
The next thing we knew more questions were asked and about 45 more people gathered around. They were also selling tickets to ride in the B-17 right next to this area. Our friend Robert Kupon, who volunteered for EAA, came over with his loudspeaker and said, “Doug, if you could, I would like to have you tell us some of your experiences in World War II.”
When this was done a gentleman came up to me and asked, “Have you written this down, Judie? Well, you should start writing because this is history.” From that moment on we were both inspired, and that was the beginning of the book Turret Tales, and it was published in 2013 when Doug turned 90 years old.
Every summer since, our vacation was spent at AirVenture. We gave presentations in the museum and in standing-only rooms.
I met many interesting people, and at AirVenture, one of the highlights was meeting Lt. Colonel Dick Cole who died a few months ago. Doug was also given a free P-51 ride by Cowden Ward, who is devoted to flying veterans in his P-51, Pecos Bill. He loves doing that for veterans. The look on Doug’s face when he landed was quite a picture.
Doug died, gone west as they say, on January 26, 2018. The day of his celebration we were honored to have a P-51 and a Corsair from the Flying Cloud Airport in Minnesota fly over to our airport, Log Cabin Airport in Mondovi, Wisconsin, to honor Doug. Two beautiful songs, Wind Beneath My Wings and Doug’s favorite Proud To Be an American, were sung by assemblyman Warren Petryk from Eleva, Wisconsin, also an aviation enthusiast. I have continued doing presentations at many schools and museums. I feel his story must continue on. A huge thanks to this wonderful organization. R.I.P., Doug.
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