B-25 bombers to salute disabled veterans with Indy 500 flyover
Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the non-profit organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans, will be honored by a special flyover of two vintage B-25 Mitchell bombers at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24.
The B-25s, named Special Delivery and Take Off Time, are fully restored, World War II-era aircraft. These warbirds will twice pass over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the National Anthem before the beginning of the race.
"The DAV is honored by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's decision to use the world's most prestigious auto race as an opportunity to turn the national spotlight on our wounded veterans," said DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. "It still amazes me to think about the brave men who flew these awesome aircraft into battle."
Said Joie Chitwood, president and COO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: "It is fitting that we honor our nation's wounded veterans with this extraordinary flyover. The sacrifices these brave men and women have made for their country make them true heroes."
While modern military aircraft are standard for such flyovers, IMS chose the venerable B-25 "War Dog" as a symbol of the courage and can-do spirit of our veterans and active duty military throughout history.
DAV National Adjutant/CEO Arthur H. Wilson said this special tribute comes at a crucial time in the fight for preserving the benefits and vital medical care for our veterans, including those returning from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"In these tough economic times, our wounded veterans unfortunately can get lost in the shuffle," Wilson said. "The DAV is fully dedicated to preventing this from happening, and recognition from the Hulman-George family and the IMS is deeply appreciated."
The B-25 Mitchell is a twin-engine, medium bomber that saw extensive action in all theaters of World War II. The aircraft is perhaps best known for the Doolittle Raid, America's first counterstrike after Pearl Harbor during which Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle led a squadron of sixteen B-25s from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on a daring, top-secret daytime raid on Japan.
"It's a rare opportunity for folks to see one of these aircraft flying, let alone two at the same time," said Larry Kelley, a warbird owner and enthusiast who will pilot Take Off Time. "This truly is a unique tribute to the brave men and women from all wars who have been injured in defense of our freedom."
The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation's disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization's Web site, www.dav.org.