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West Virginia veterans honored in Yeager display

Chris Dorst
Master Sgt. James Braley (left) and Senior Airman Tyler Caruthers, of the 130th Airlift Wing's honor guard, retire the colors at the conclusion of Monday's ceremony dedicating a new West Virginia veterans' exhibit at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A wall in Yeager Airport's baggage claim area has been set aside to exhibit monthly photo displays honoring West Virginia military veterans.

A ceremony opening the new Wall of Honor display was held Monday at the Charleston airport, featuring photos and news accounts of the 20 West Virginia Air National Guard members who died in an April 8, 1951, C-47 transport plane crash.

The C-47, on instrument approach to the airport during a period of rain and poor visibility, smashed into a hilltop about eight miles northwest of the main runway. Those aboard the doomed aircraft had been traveling to Charleston from Godman Air Force Base in Kentucky, to attend the funeral of a fellow West Virginia Air Guard member, Maj. Woodford "Jock" Sutherland of St. Albans, who died in a training accident in Florida several days before the C-47 crash.

"It is a wonderful thing when we can take time to remember and honor those who have given so much for those they do not know," said Beth Kerns, president of the West Virginia Military Retiree Association, the organization charged with managing the exhibit.

"So many service members travel through here on their way to and from deployments," Kerns said. "It's important for them to know that we honor them and their service."

The West Virginia Military Retiree Association is accepting photos of veterans that will be labeled and installed on the Wall of Honor in exhibits that will remain on display for about one month each. At the end of the month, the photos will be archived, and a new set of photos will be put on display.

Photos suitable for display on the wall should be in an 8-by-10-inch format, in either color or black and white. Images can be of military personnel who have retired or separated from service, or who remain on active duty. Photos will not be returned.

A photo submission form, available online at www.facebook.com/wvmra, or by sending email to wvmra@yahoo.com, must be completed, listing the veteran's name, rank, dates of service, and conflict pictured. A portion of the form seeks information used to establish proof of service for the veterans depicted in the photos.Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.


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