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 2019 show. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control may alter the attendees.
Thanks To Our Sponsors who help us present these Heroes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Col Jerry Ross
Jerry Ross is a NASA Astronaut with a record of seven space flights and nine space walks.
2nd Lt. Regina Mayor
2nd Lt. Regina Mayor was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and interned at the Pentagon as part of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) liaison office. Today, she serves as KPMG’s Global Sector Head and the U.S. National Sector Leader of Energy and Natural Resources. In both capacities, she helps determine the firm’s strategy to better serve the industry as well as optimize the delivery of KPMG’s services nationally and globally. Mayor served as an adjunct professor at Rice University’s Jones School of Business teaching energy strategy to professional MBA candidates in 2013 and 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University. Mayor also is a strong voice supporting women’s leadership and networking programs. She serves as co-chair of the Houston Women Corporate Directors Chapter, is on the board of the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and supports the United Way Women’s Initiative steering committee in Houston.
Dr. Du Hua
Dr. Du Hua, a Navy veteran, was born in Vietnam during the war and lived under communist rule until escaping in 1981 and coming to the United States a year later. After learning English and earning a GED and an associate’s degree, Dr. Hua joined the United States Navy in 1987. He served multiple deployments, including Operation Desert Storm. After his military career, he became a pharmacist.
Cdr. Randall Harold "Duke" Cunningham
Cdr. Randall Harold “Duke” Cunningham was an officer in the U.S. Navy for 20 years. Together with his Radar Intercept Officer, William P. “Irish” Driscoll, Cunningham became the only navy flying ace from the Vietnam War to obtain five confirmed aerial victories during that conflict, and one of only five U.S. aviators to become an ace during that conflict. To date, Cunningham and Driscoll are the two last aircrew of the United States Navy to achieve “ace” status. Following the war, Cunningham was later an instructor at the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, and commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 126 (VF-126), a shore-based adversary squadron at NAS Miramar, California.
Spec. Justin "JP" Lane
Spec. Justin “JP” Lane joined the U.S. Army in 2008 at the age of 20 years old. Like most young men watching the World Trade Center towers fall in 2001, JP knew he wanted to join the military when he was old enough to do so. As a combat engineer, he was deployed to Afghanistan as a Specialist with the 428th Engineer Company in October 2010 to search for IEDs. On July 2, 2011, his RG31 truck was penetrated by a 200 lb. IED while on a mission. He was in a coma for six weeks, having 26 injuries and 28 surgeries – changing his life forever. JP is a double amputee and the doctors told him he wasn’t going to do many things like use prosthetics because his legs were so badly damaged or speak properly again because of a tracheotomy. An inspirational speaker and author, JP has proven them wrong.
Christina Olds is the author of the bestseller book about her father, Fighter Pilot; The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds. Christina is now working on a screenplay based upon the book, and is writing a second book about her grandfather, Maj. Gen. Robert Olds, who was an instrumental leader in the development of early air power and the U.S. Air Force. A Vassar College graduate, Christina is a sought-after speaker at Air Force and NATO bases, aviation museums and air shows, both nationally and abroad, and is dedicated to furthering her father’s legacy to inspire today’s active duty fighter pilots around the world.
Staff Sgt. Patt Meara
Staff Sgt. Patt Meara joined the Army Air Forces in February 1942. He was sent to North Africa in mid-1943 and then to India as a gunner manning the .50-caliber machine gun on a six-ton truck. Meara then volunteered for the 1st Air Commando Group in January 1944 and was an aerial gunner on B-25H medium bombers flying close support missions over Burma and during Operation Thursday on March 5, 1944, which was the birth of Air Commandos. He served with that elite unit until October 1944 and was discharged in 1946.
Sadly, we have more to add to this display and will be updating this list.