AF museum marks POW/MIA Day, Air Force’s 70th birthday with veterans

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AF museum marks POW/MIA Day, Air Force’s 70th birthday with veterans

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Ty Greenlees
The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter nicknamed the Hanoi Taxi is known for returning the first group of POWs from Vietnam. The huge cargo jet continued in service with this original paint scheme into 2006 when it was retired to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The Hanoi Taxi is now in the fourth building. Above the C-141 is the Boeing YQM-94A Compass Cope B. a remotely piloted vehicle tested in the 1970s as a long-endurance reconnaissance aircraft. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The last commander of the Air Force troop carrying jet that flew the first American POWs home in 1973 during the Vietnam War is set to speak Friday on National POW/MIA Day at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Beavercreek resident and retired Col. Jack F. Blackman, 65, the last commander of the C-141 Starlifter nicknamed the “Hanoi Taxi,” is scheduled to answer questions next to the plane from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Global Reach Gallery. The historic plane, which served for decades after the Vietnam War, was delivered to the museum in 2006.

To mark the Air Force’s 70th birthday Monday, former crew members aboard nearly 20 aircraft will talk to visitors about the history of the planes, according to museum spokesman Rob Bardua.

“Plane Talks” is set from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday at aircraft throughout the museum.

Speaking with the veterans from the World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Cold War is meant to give visitors a personal connection to those eras, Bardua said.

Pilots, navigators, a retired crew chief and an engineer were to answer questions about a wide range of aircraft, including the B-25, C-47, C-123, C-124, C-130, C-141, F-89, F-101, F-105, HH-43, KC-97, KC-135, RC-121 and the T-39, according to the museum.

The museum has a direct connection to the birth of the Air Force.

In the Presidential Gallery, President Harry S. Truman’s plane the C-54 Sacred Cow is where he signed the National Security Act of 1947 on Sept. 18 that year, creating the Air Force as a separate military branch equal to the Army and Navy. The service branch was part of the Army during World Wars I and II.

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