Saturday, July 21, 2012

A day with true Americans in Fort Worth.

A friend of mine is a retired one-star Air Force general, fellow pilot, warbird and history enthusiast and all-around good guy.

One of his passions is the Veterans Memorial Air Park (VMAP) located on the grounds of Fort Worth Meacham Airport (KFTW).

This past Saturday, the general and his volunteers put together a nice shindig for the VMAP and coordinated it with Fort Worth Meacham Airport's 87th birthday.

America was alive and well today. Hundreds of veterans turned out to support the museum as well as congregate and tell war stories and relate tales and memories of their/our military service. Spouses and children took in the displays and waited in line for the T-38 simulator.

Shuttles had been set up from the passenger terminal area at the airport to bring visitors to the museum and grounds, where the smell of grilling hot dogs greeted them along with aircraft displays from the Vietnam era.

It was hot in Fort Worth today, hellishly hot and the place to be was inside the museum itself.

Along with the fly-in and static displays, a book-signing was held in the main area of the VMAP museum. I was honored to be an invitee.

I was one of five authors signing books. Two of us were novelists and the other three were historians. J'Nell L. Pate wrote the definitive history of Fort Worth's military legacy in her book, Arsenal of Defense, which was just published last year.

(Bob Gruenhagen and J'Nell Pate)

Don Pyeatt has a love affair with the B-36 Peacemaker. He was there and signing his latest book, Cold War Peacemaker. The Story of Cowtown and the Corvair B-36. This is a fascinating book on the long range bomber that gave us an undisputed edge in the Cold War. The photography is Smithsonian-like and the anecdotes from crew members and mechanics are priceless.

(Don Pyeatt and J.D. Kinman)

The final non-fiction book I purchased from my fellow authors is the undisputed king of all aviation books ever written on or about the P-51 Mustang. Typical of its author, Robert "Bob" W. Gruenhagen, the title is plain and non-flashy. But let me tell you about Mustang. The Story Of The P-51 Fighter. . . Every aviation buff, fighter jock, WWII aviation historian and anyone else who has a keen admiration and insatiable interest in the P-51 will tell you that this is THE book on the greatest fighter many feel has ever been built for its generation, and certainly the undisputed (and proven) king of World War II aviation.

The final author I was graced to have met and shared a table and day with is novelist Susan Howell. Susan, my uncle and I discovered that we had all chewed up a lot of the same ground in Thailand. Susan and her mother were the first two civilian (American) women allowed on Korat Royal Air Base, Thailand, during the Vietnam war. Susan's father was a decorated WWII pilot and an aviation pioneer. All pilots are familiar with EGT and the EGT indicator or gauge.

(Susan Howell and Amanda Irvin)

That was the doing of Susan's father, John Stinson Howell, III who also went on to pioneer additional instrumentation that saved countless Air Force and Navy aircraft engines, which in turn, saved countless lives.

Susan's novel, Oil Rush. The International Tug of War is presently in its final edit and publication stage and will be available in November of 2012. At the time of this writing, Susan and her daughter, Amanda, are finalizing their website for the book's launch. Amanda tells me she anticipates the website being better than 90% functional within the next seven days.

Check back on this one--and don't worry because I'll remind you. I'll be pre-ordering this novel from Susan as the premise sounds fascinating and promises to be a stone-cold page-turner.

This was another one of those days you don't forget because once again, I was blessed to have made yet more new friends and witness what is right about America.

Should any of you be passing through Fort Worth or looking for a truly neat destination in your travels, give yourself a few hours to stop in the Veterans Memorial Air Park. There is a lot of history packed into that building, some fascinating artifacts, an incredible library and some of the finest patriots you'll ever meet.


  1. Thanks for your participation and kind words.

    Jim Hodgson
    Executive Director
    Veterans Memorial Air Park

  2. Sounds like and interesting group! And I'm betting the chats were fun too! I DO need to get you a book to sign for me.