The Central Texas Wing almost didn’t make it to Oshkosh this year. Getting two World War II era aircraft from Texas to Wisconsin and back using all volunteer crews and all volunteer support staff is difficult and expensive, and the Wing had to make some hard choices about whether or not using our limited resources in this effort would be worthwhile. On the other hand, this was to be a special Oshkosh – this is the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, and the Wing, by virtue of operating a B-25, has long felt a duty to honor the men who, 75 years ago, launched off the deck of the USS Hornet on a one way mission that changed the course of the war.
With the support of many generous donors, the Central Texas Wing did, in the end, decide to make the trip. I couldn’t go – but by all accounts the Wing and its Members made the most of the opportunity. There were many highlights, honors, and experiences, and no doubt many personal lifetime memories and friendships were created and strengthened.
One picture, however, for me, stood out. It is a picture of Dave Berrio helping Dick Cole.
Most people familiar with the history of the Doolittle Raid know Dick Cole. He’s 101, which would have made him 26 when he flew off the USS Hornet as Doolittle’s copilot. He is the last surviving Doolittle Raider, and he was in Oshkosh to take part in the tribute to him and his comrades.
I’m not sure most people know Dave Berrio. I’ve been a member of the Wing for 15 years, and I’m not sure I could tell you when Dave joined. What I do know about Dave is that he’s always smiling, and always looking for ways to help. He’s volunteered in a number of roles for the Wing – none of them glamorous – and he always performs his duties effectively with good humor and a smile – he is a true asset to the Wing.
I don’t know how it happened that Dick Cole ended up at Dave’s right arm. I do know that in that moment, most likely, all of the effort Dave put in as a Central Texas Wing volunteer paid off for him via a memory that will last the rest of his life. By extension, it was a moment that would have not have been possible but for the work of all of the volunteers of the Central Texas Wing, and also through the generous support of the many donors that made the trip possible.
I’m sure there were at least a dozen similar moments at Oshkosh this year and I’ll bet there will be a lot more stories told – I’m confident I’m going to feel like I missed something special. I’m glad, though, that this moment was captured, because moments like these exemplify what the mission of the Central Texas Wing is all about.
The Central Texas Wing relies on the hard work of it’s volunteers and the generous support of it’s donors. Please consider becoming a donor today!