2016-11-10 / Local News

Veteran’s Day observance to include B-52 pilot who flew 68 missions

He’s a Vietnam veteran

As always, Veterans Day will be observed this year in Leelanau County on the of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The observance will be tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on the Leelanau County Government Center campus off the north side of M-22 in Suttons Bay Township.

The national holiday dates to November 11, 1918, when hostilities ceased in World War I and an armistice went into effect. The date was known as “Armistice Day” until 1954 when the U.S. Congress passed a law declaring the day “Veteran’s Day,” which is intended to honor all those who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

As in past years, the master of ceremonies for Friday’s observance will be former Leelanau County Commissioner Richard Schmuckal of Suttons Bay, wearing his Cold War-era Army sergeant’s uniform. As a commissioner, Schmuckal was instrumental in ensuring the county’s Veterans Memorial Plaza was constructed on the site.

The memorial plaza cost about $175,000 to construct. The first ceremony held there was on Memorial Day 2010.

Schmuckal reported that the guest speaker at the Veterans Day observance will be a friend of Alan Aldrich of Suttons Bay, who serves a chaplain of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post 773, the “Little Finger Post.” Aldrich is a former Air Force officer who invited his former comrade Tom Crawley to speak.

Schmuckal said Crawley served as a B-52 heavy bomber pilot through two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying from bases in Guam and Thailand. Crawley flew 68 combat missions over Vietnam, Schmuckal said.

The Peshawbestown-based American Legion Post 120, the “Eagletown Post,” will provide a color guard at the observance. And the VFW “Little Finger” post will provide a firing squad to render a gun salute at the ceremony.

— by Eric Carlson

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