MONROE - While the Monroe County Fair annually attracts about 160,000 visitors through its gates, a second event the weekend before the fair starts is quickly becoming a mainstay of the week's activities.
Monroe Custer Airport and Monroe Aviation will once again host a two-day event honoring local veterans and featuring modern and historic airplanes and other military displays.
More than 4,000 people attended last year's inaugural Living History Books event at the airport, and Kelly Gotha, co-owner of Monroe Aviation, expects even larger crowds this weekend.
“One of our goals [when she and husband, Jim, took over the airport's operation in 1999] was to bring the public back and let them know they're welcome at the airport,” Mrs. Gotha said.
The Living History Books event allows local veterans from all wars to gather and share their experiences, as well as take a flight over memory lane, Mrs. Gotha said.
Among the attractions this year will be a B-17G Flying Fortress and a C-47 transport plane, as well as an open cockpit New Standard D-25 biplane. Other aircraft scheduled to appear include a Coast Guard helicopter, a one-of-a-kind 1960 Beechcraft G-18S, a flyover by Air Force Reserve F-16s from Toledo, and a T-6 trainer.
Not all the metal on display will be on aircraft, however. This year's event will bring together five generals who will share their wartime experiences. Among them is Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Joining General Tibbets will be Maj. Gen. Richard Bodycombe and Brig. Gen. Dan Taylor, both of the Air Force, and Maj. Gen. Mark Sisinyak and Brig. Gen. John Rowland of the U.S. Army.
The generals will be the guests of honor during a series of memorials scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday at the various war memorials along North Custer Road, just east of the airport.
Dale Schroeder, chairman of the World Wars I & II Monument Association, one of the event's sponsors, said Monroe County has a history of paying its respects to local war veterans, and this is a way for those veterans to share their experiences.
“It's a way to get the veterans together from all the wars,” Mr. Schroeder said. “We're fading out pretty fast, our [World War II] generation, that's why we put it together.”
The event is being jointly sponsored by the World Wars I & II Monument Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Carleton Post 4093, and is being underwritten by Monroe Aviation and La-Z-Boy.