Dec. 10, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Tozer, 615-898-2919
WORLD WAR II FLYER HONORED WITH A RETURN TO THE AIR TODAY
MURFREESBORO—It was a privilege to be there and see it. The pleasure was all John Ford’s.
Whether it was to cross off an item on a “bucket list” or to relive an indelible memory, when World War II fighter pilot John Ford, 89, took off from the Murfreesboro Airport today at noon in a 1952 de Havilland Beaver aircraft, he made a return trip to his youth and those glory days of flying across Africa and Europe.
Ford, a resident of the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro wanted one more opportunity to fly. Ford was a highly decorated World War II pilot who flew B-26 bombers and was the recipient of 19 air medals from the U.S. Army Air Corps. A member of the Army’s Ninth Air Force, he flew 24 hours nonstop on D-Day, June 6, 1944, in support of his mission.
People who know Ford and admire his service to his country decided to make Ford’s wish come true.
Dr. Tony Johnston, MTSU professor of agribusiness and agriscience and a member of the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee National Guard, got the ball rolling. Johnston’s mother resides at the TSVH, and they both know Ford well.
“To veterans, heroes are the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Johnston said. “Mr. Ford is a hero to many of us because of his significant sacrifices and service during World War II. Today we are honored to have the opportunity to thank him for his service and challenged to remember that the world would be completely different today had he not been one of the many who fought and died for the principals we Americans hold so dear.”
When Barbara Cochran, TSVH activities director, learned of Ford’s desire to fly again, she and Johnston collaborated. Johnston then contacted MTSU’s aerospace department, which furnished both the plane and the pilot.
Terry Dorris, MTSU associate professor of aerospace, piloted the de Havilland Beaver and, along with Johnston and Gina Logue, MTSU News and Public Affairs, were the only people who may have caught a smile on the old soldier’s face as they soared through the air.