Friday, September 10, 2010

Air show crew visits, pays respect to vets at VA Medical Center

By Russell Lissau, Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/9/2010 2:48 PM
Chicago Daily Herald

In Lake County to participate in this weekend's Waukegan Air Show, members of an Air Force demonstration team visited with veterans at the North Chicago VA Medical Center on Thursday.

The crew members - all maintenance workers for a tank-busting jet called the A-10 Thunderbolt II - talked about their formidable plane's capabilities, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other military topics.

The veterans peppered the crew members with questions about the A-10's ordnance, cost, maneuverability and combat experience.

Master Sgt. Jason Lynch, the leader of the visiting group, was particularly happy to talk about how the far-from-sleek A-10 overcame its unofficial nickname, the Warthog, by achieving combat success in the first Persian Gulf War.

"It was hated until (the Air Force) saw how it worked," Lynch said.

Based at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., Lynch's unit performs at about 30 air shows a year. It's essentially a recruiting team, Lynch said.

The visit to the VA hospital was out of the ordinary for the crew.

"We're trying to make a difference for the veterans, and trying to bring some light to their day," Lynch said.

"And to show our appreciation and support for what they've done for us," added Sgt. David Clifford.

More than 20 veterans participated in the discussion, which was staged in a recreation room. Everyone got commemorative photographs of the A-10 and stickers.

Air Force veteran Bill Holliman was particularly interested in the A-10's performance in the current war in the Middle East.

Lynch told the group a squadron from Moody Air Force Base soon will be deployed to Afghanistan.

"Good luck, sir," Holliman responded.

Sr. Airman Brendan Tuttle signs an autograph for Perry Morris Sr. as members of the A-10 East Demonstration Team visit vets at North Chicago VA Medical Center Thursday. The A-10 military plane will be part of Saturday's Waukegan Air Show. (Photo by Gilbert R. Boucher II / Staff Photographer)

Master Sgt. Jason Lynch talks to Larry Rodgers, center, and Leonard West as members of the A-10 East Demonstration Team visit veterans at North Chicago VA Medical Center Thursday. (Photo by Gilbert R. Boucher II / Staff Photographer)


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