Lycoming County Veterans Memorial Park’s visually inspiring, historically significant and thought-provoking collection of military monuments in Williamsport could grow.
Veterans – including those who served in the Korean War – are in the fundraising phase to upgrade the A-6 Intruder, a decommissioned military fighter jet that flew missions in 1986, and at memorials memorials for county residents who received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and Medal of Honor.
“One of the County Medal of Honor recipients was Albert Campbell, who served in the Boxer Rebellion in the Philippines,” said Don Young, a Navy submariner and member of the Veterans Memorial Park Commission.
Project manager and park secretary John Markley said Young had been great, as had Denny Bennett on the A-6 Intruder project.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of the community, the generous donations of individuals, many companies who provided materials for free or at reduced cost, the help of the Pennsylvania College of Technology, its staff and students in Construction Technology, City of Williamsport and County of Lycoming,” Markley said.
The plane was obtained from Williamsport Regional Airport, where it had been used by students enrolled in classes at the Kathryn Wentzel Lumley Aviation Center at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
“We want the Intruder painted this summer or, if not, next year,” said Young.
The paint would be the traditional gray, and it would be marked for VA:58 Squadron where it flew from in 1986, he said.
A second plan is underway and involves raising funds, approximately $50,000, to bring an Intruder obelisk and four panels with graphics, tributes and aircraft history.
It will tell the story of Intruder with visuals, charts and descriptions of its flight duties, with information about flight and ordinance crews.
“It would be a tribute and educational”, said Young.
Members of the Veterans Memorial Park Commission have already poured the concrete slab and footing between the aircraft and the M-1 Abrams tank in preparation for the new memorials.
“The Intruder’s Story” The tribute obelisks are at five sites across the country: the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida; the birthplace of aviation in Garden City, Long Island, New York; the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Wash.; the Naval Aircraft Carrier Memorial Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Havelock, North Carolina.
The granite obelisk has a base of 4 feet by 4 feet and is approximately 8 feet high.
The commission is also working on the search for inert MK-82 bombs and a “bomb cart” to expose on the ground under the wing of the intruder.
Other monument ideas include one for those awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This monument, in the planning stage, has been assigned to all branches of the military and would likely be located under an intruder’s wing, Young said.
A third monument idea will be the Purple Heart, which will likely be a pink colored granite monument. It would honor several county residents who were awarded for their bravery and would likely sit between the submarine and the World War I monument, Young said.
A fourth monument would be for those who received the Medal of Honor, including in the county one recipient – Campbell.
It would also be granite with an image of the medal and would likely be located between the edge of the north wall monuments for those who served in the Revolutionary War through the early 20th century conflicts and the submarine.
“Our current vision for the Distinguished Flying Cross, Congressional Medal of Honor and Purple Heart monuments would be black granite monuments similar in size to the declared war memorials along the north wall, perhaps a bit larger,” Young saint in an e-mail.
Young thanked all members of the Veterans Memorial Park Commission and Mike Vanderhoof, a volunteer. He gained knowledge and information on the technical aspects of the Intruder additions to the Pacific Coast Air Museum. He also did research with the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Young said he also contacted mechanics and technicians.
The commission can only make the monuments a reality through generous donations and those who buy bricks – either a 4-by-8-inch for $50 or a 12-by-12-inch for $200.