Opportunity of a lifetime
September 12, 2020
Participating in Historical V-J Day Aerial Parades in Hawaii, marking the end of WWII
On July 26, Dustin Mosher and Diane Barney, co-owners of the PT-17 Stearman that carries the name "Felix," flew from Tehachapi Airport to North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego to begin an exciting adventure flying their aircraft in three aerial parades honoring the veterans of World War II and celebrating the 75th Anniversary of V-J Day (Victory over Japan), and the end of World War II.
Dustin saw an ad in a magazine in January requesting World War II vintage aircraft to participate in the celebration and he responded.
According to the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII website, the Secretary of Defense (SecDef), Dr. Mark T. Esper, authorized the transport of up to 24 World War II warbirds to Hawaii aboard the USS Essex (LDH-2) to participate in the planned Commemoration flyover of the Battleship Missouri. The surrender document was signed, officially ending World War II aboard the USS MISSOURI (BB-63) at 8:10 a.m., Sept. 2, 1945.
As part of the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII, three Legacy of Peace Aerial Parades to celebrate the service and honor the sacrifice of our WWII veterans were visible to residents around Oahu. These flights featured 17 WWII Warbirds - 14 that were carried on the USS Essex and three that were in Hawaii - on August 29, 30 and September 2.
The first Legacy of Peace Aerial Parade on August 29, flew over Waipahu, the Pearl Harbor/Aiea area, then followed a path toward the south shore and then headed north, along the windward side, around the north shore and by Haleiwa Airfield.
The second Legacy of Peace Aerial Parade on August 30, flew from Wheeler Air Force Base to Haleiwa Airfield and Kaena Point, and then along the west side of Oahu, returning to Pearl Harbor and Ford Island.
On September 2, the Legacy of Peace Aerial Parade began at Wheeler Air Force Base just after 7 a.m. on a path toward Haleiwa Airfield, then along the west coast of Oahu. The aircraft then turned inland and flew over the Battleship Missouri Memorial starting at 8:10 a.m. The ceremony was live streamed around the world. Dustin was live streaming from the cockpit of "Felix" during the flyover of the USS Missouri Memorial.
Diane carried a handkerchief that had special meaning to me, as it was given to me by my good friend, Flora Belle Reece, who flew with the WASP (Women Air Service Pilot) during World War II. Reece served in Class 44-W-4 flying the North American AT-6, Stearman PT-17, Vultee BT-13, and Martin B-26.
She celebrated her 90th birthday on Oct. 2014 and sadly passed away in December 2014. She was a wonderful role model, with a high spirit of adventure, love of aviation and outstanding resolve to accomplish her goals.
Diane said, "It will be in my left breast pocket over my heart for our Legacy of Peace flights in memorial of the sacrifices of the women who served as WASP during WWII."
Pilots Dustin and Diane taxied out for the last flight on Sept. 2. Wonderful days of tours of the USS Missouri, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, rides in other warbirds, including P-51 Mustang and B-25 Mitchell bomber, glider rides and making new friends in the warbird community. This has been a most memorable and meaningful time in their lives.
Dustin wrote in a post on Sept. 2: "The culminating moment of this time in Hawaii with the warbirds was today, as this morning we again flew as a flight of 10 around Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. But today, the morning of the 2nd of September 2020, marks precisely 75 years since the signing of the peace agreement with Japan thus ending WWII and restoring peace to the planet. While from our perspective here amongst the pilots and supporting military and volunteers there is much awareness and conviction in the air to acknowledge this monumental moment in our history, we must only hope that as a nation we are remembering it as well. We know much has been forgotten; much has been changed. We must hold our ground and reverse that tide. The sacrifice and efforts that brought that day to exist must be understood and not forgotten."
Happy pilots; mission complete.
Now the airplanes will be loaded back on to the USS Essex for the trip home from Hawaii.
There will be many stories to tell for years to come!
See you on our next flight!