On Saturday, November 11, 2023, the American Airpower Museum (AAM) joined forces with Honor Flight Long Island (HFLI) and Mission Margraten Plus (MMP) to host a special Veterans Day program honoring Long Island veterans. Those being honored included World War II veterans, Korean War and Vietnam veterans, and Cold War veterans.
At the opening of the ceremony, a Cub Scout Honor Guard led the Pledge of Allegiance with welcome remarks by American Airpower Museum and Honor Flight Long Island officials. “Whether they served in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Merchant Marines or Coast Guard, all veterans who defended freedom and U.S. interests during WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, plus later conflicts Iraq and Afghanistan, deserve to be honored,” said Jeff Clyman, AAM President.
The AAM’s WWII Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Second Chance” performed two tribute flights. On board, each flight were pre-selected WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans and two local high school students whose essays about veterans were chosen as winners in a contest. At exactly 2:11 p.m., two minutes of silence was observed, as prescribed by the Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act of 2016.
Two of the attending WWII veterans were Bill Nacinovich and Dominick Critelli, both 102 years old. Critelli of Floral Park, who played his saxophone at the UBS Arena on September 17th with André Rieu, performed America the Beautiful and the National Anthem at the AAM Veteran’s Day program.
Many ceremonies honoring veterans have occurred intermittently at the AAM since the Museum’s opening in 2000. “It’s to keep their memories alive, and it is more important every year,” said AAM manager Lawrence Starr, noting especially that fewer WWII veterans are alive with each passing year.
The American Airpower Museum is located on the landmarked former site of Republic Aviation at Republic Airport, Farmingdale, NY. The Museum maintains a collection of aviation artifacts and an array of operational aircraft spanning the many years of the aircraft factory’s history. The Museum is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Educational Foundation Chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.