Legends & Heroes Autograph Tent
Meet aviation, military legends and heroes at our Autograph Tent. Throughout the day, flying aces, decorated war-heroes, veterans and special guests will be present to sign autographs. Many of these living legends will also offer for sale copies of their autobiographies and other memorabilia. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet these heroes and hear their stories!
**Below is a list of the Legends who committed to attend the 2018 show. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control may alter the attendees. More details about who will be attending in 2019 will happen in the summer** rev 10-3-2018
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George W.S. Abbey
George Abbey is a former director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University. He had more influence on human spaceflight than almost anyone in history. Abbey oversaw the selection of every astronaut class from 1978 to 1987, deciding who got to fly and when. He was with the Apollo 1 astronauts the night before the fatal fire in January 1967. He was in mission control the night of the Apollo 13 accident and organized the recovery effort. Abbey also led NASA’s recruitment of women and minorities as space shuttle astronauts and was responsible for hiring Sally Ride.
T/Sgt. Raul Baldit
Baldit was a combat infantryman of the 87th Division of the Third Army. In 1944 his unit entered combat in France’s Alsace-Lorraine. Following heavy fighting, his division crossed the German border in the Saar Region on 15 Dec 1944. On 25 Dec 1944, his unit took part in the historic counterattack in The Battle of the Bulge. His division attacked the German Panzer Lehr Division near Bastogne. Sgt. Baldit also participated in the Breaching of the Siegfried Line, Moselle River Crossing, Capture of Koblenz, and the Rhine Crossing.
Col. Dean Caswell
Caswell is a WWII veteran who joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942. He was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 221 aboard the USS Bunker Hill for combat in the Pacific, Japanese homeland islands, Iwo Jima, Honshu and Kyushu with major action against Kamikazes. He was credited with 7 kills and three probable flying the F4U Corsair. Col. Caswell served two tours in the Korean War as an All-Weather Fighter Pilot.
Brig. Gen. Jean-Loup Chrétien
Gen. Chrétien is a French astronaut and was the first person from Western Europe to go into space, aboard a Soviet flight to the Salyut 7 space station in June 1982. Chrétien flew a second Soviet mission to space station Mir in 1988 and then returned to Mir as a U.S.-trained astronaut aboard NASA’s space shuttle in 1997.
Franklin Chang Diaz Ph.D.
Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican-Chinese American mechanical engineer, physicist, former NASA Astronaut. He is the founder and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company as well as a member of Cummins Inc.’s board of directors. He became an American citizen in 1977. He is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions, making him the record holder as of 2018 for the most spaceflights (a record he shares with Jerry L. Ross). He was the first Latin American immigrant NASA Astronaut selected to go into space. Chang Díaz is a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Col. Dick Cole, Doolittle Raiders
Dick Cole was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo Raid. The Doolittle Raiders were a group of 80 volunteer airmen from the U.S. Army Air Forces who, on April 18, 1942, flew 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers from the deck of the USS Hornet on a daring mission to bomb Japan. For his action, Lt. Col. Cole received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and many other decorations.
MSgt Wes Fields
Master Sergeant Fields is a 24-year service and a combat veteran. He earned 62 decorations and awards while serving in the United States Air Force as an Aerial Gunner on the AC-130H Spectre Gunship assigned to the United States Air Force Special Operations Command. He participated in numerous special operation missions throughout the world.
CW 4 Daniel Flores
Flores is a native Houstonian and flew the AH-64 Apache helicopter. Flores was activated in 2005 to be deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and, during his one year tour, was witness to the resurgence of the Taliban. Flores participated on some of the fiercest fighting in the Hindu Kush Mountains.
Celeste was a dispatcher for the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT) for Aviation Enterprises at Municipal Airport, now named Hobby Airport, in Houston, TX. A contract was awarded the company to train women pilots to free up men for combat. Celeste stayed on as dispatcher. The Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program began in Houston as the Army Air Force Women Flight Training Detachment (AAFWFTD). Later, the combined Army Air Force programs were officially named Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
PFC Birney T. “Chick” Havey Jr.
Havey is a WWII combat veteran from St. Louis, Missouri, who served in the US Army, 42nd “Rainbow” Division, 222nd Infantry Anti-Tank Company as a combat paratrooper. He earned three battle stars in combat at the Battle of Northern France, the Battle of the Bulge and Task Force Linden under General Patton’s 3rd Army and the Invasion of Germany, including the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp in April 1945. He was wounded in the Battle of Germany on 01 March 1945, also earning him the Purple Heart, the Bronze Start with one Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorious Achievement against the enemy, and the Silver Star for Valor in combat.
Maj. Lew Jennings
Lew Jennings is a retired Army Officer, former airline pilot and business executive. He flew 726 Air Cavalry Cobra helicopter gunship combat missions in Vietnam, receiving over 50 combat decorations including three Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor and 36 Air Medals. He is a Life Member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, the Disabled American Veterans, and an active member in the Experimental Aircraft Association, Old Bold Pilots and Quiet Birdmen.
Col. Charles McGee
Col. McGee enlisted in the US Army on October 26, 1942, and became a part of the Tuskegee Airmen, having earned his pilot’s wings on June 30, 1943. In February 1944, he was flying missions in Italy with the 302nd Fighter Squadron of the 332d Fighter Group. He served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
McGee was recognized for his combat and military service with a number of awards including: Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 25 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Hellenic Republic World War II Commemorative Medal along with related campaign and service ribbons.
In 2007, President George Bush awarded him and the surviving Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, and in 2011, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.
Col. Joe McPhail
McPhail flew with the most successful Marine Fighting Squadron of 1945 was VMF-323, the “Death Rattlers”. In just a few weeks, they shot down 124½ Japanese and counted a dozen Aces. Col. McPhail downed a Zeke and, on April 12, 1945, while on patrol flying a F4U Corsair, shot day Ki-27 Nate. He is also a decorated combat pilot veteran of the Korean War.
In 2010, Christina Olds published a memoir of her father’s life titled Fighter Pilot; The Memoirs of a Legendary Ace Robin Olds. The book became a national bestseller, heralded by reviewers and readers as an exceptionally literary and lyrical biography. Christina has begun work on a screenplay for FIGHTER PILOT, and is working on a second book, the story of her grandfather, Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, an instrumental leader in the development of early air power and the U.S. Air Force.
Maj. Terry Pappas
Terry Pappas spent 41 years flying for the USAF and NASA, including service during the Vietnam era. (?). He has flown a wide array of aircraft from the T-38, Learjets, Gulfstreams, the Super Guppy, DC-9s, and the SR-71 Blackbird. With more than 10,000 hours, Terry retired from NASA in 2011.
Lt. Col. John R. "Bob" Pardo
Pardo and his wingman, Capt. Earl Aman, were attacking a steel mill just north of Hanoi but both F-4 Phantom IIs were hit by anti-aircraft fire. Despite a fire in one of his own engines, Pardo used Aman’s tailhook to push the plane to Laotian airspace to an altitude of 6,000 feet. This left them about two minutes of flying time. The pilots ejected, evaded capture, and were picked up by rescue helicopters.
SPC 5 Clarence Sasser
Born in Chenango, TX, Clarence Sasser served as a combat medic in Vietnam. During an air assault in the Mekong Delta, Sasser scrambled out of his helicopter to treat wounded fellow soldiers. Despite multiple wounds, he waived off help from fellow medics and continued to aid more wounded, he was hit in both legs by machine-gun fire and knocked down. He used his arms to pull himself through the mud to help a wounded soldier calling out from a hundred yards away. Although faint from blood loss and in agonizing pain, Sasser continued to treat the wounded. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor.
Captain Mike Trahan
Mike Trahan was a pilot in Vietnam flying the AC-47 “Spooky” gunship. After graduation from Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training, he spent two years in the Military Airlift Command, flying the C-141 Starlifter jet transport aircraft. In 1969, he was re-assigned to the AC-47 “Spooky” Gunship and later to the EC-47 Electric Countermeasures aircraft. He served a year of combat in Vietnam in those two aircraft.
Alfred "Al" Worden
As command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in 1971, Al Worden flew on what is widely regarded as the greatest exploration mission that humans have ever attempted. He spent six days orbiting the moon, including three days completely alone, the most isolated human in existence. During the return from the moon to Earth he also conducted the first spacewalk in deep space, becoming the first human ever to see both the entire Earth and moon simply by turning his head. The Apollo 15 flight capped an already-impressive career as an astronaut, including important work on the pioneering Apollo 9 and Apollo 12 missions, as well as the perilous flight of Apollo 13.
Sadly, we have more to add to this display and will be updating this list.
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