By Michael Benolkin

The events of the last month have been unimaginable and even now beyond expression. The shock has given way to horror and then to anger and then the desire to something! For those of you in the armed forces, law enforcement, fire departments and paramedical services, we offer you our prayers and wish you God Speed. For those of us too old to serve on the front lines anymore (I hate that feeling!) or otherwise left behind in frustration, we can use our talents to honor these heroes.


Freedom and heroism live on by Thomas Franklin of the Bergen Record

While the photos above illustrate the heroes of the US in the face of adversity and heavy casualties, there are many more examples of such heroism in the histories of every country, ideology and faith around the world. I suggest that during those times that we can pry ourselves away from the television news and the internet seeking the latest news, we should re-visit these heroes of our recent and not-so-recent pasts. Let's honor these heroes in scale!

Need some help getting started?

  • Douglas Bader is one of the RAF's most famous fighter pilots and flew combat missions without legs! Yep, he lost them in a crash in 1931 but he defied the odds and not only survived the crash, he would later lead squadrons into combat during the Battle of Britain and accumulate 22.5 victories.

  • James Luma is a hero that was lost between national boundaries. He accumulated over seven aerial victories and numerous ground kills while flying the de Havilland Mosquito with 418 Sqn (RCAF). Because he was an American flying in a Canadian squadron in Britain, he and others in the same situation rarely appear in the history books.

  • The 'Tuskegee Airmen' are all excellent examples of defying the odds. These pilots not only had to deal with the enemy overseas, they had to deal with prejudice that presumed that men of African descent were incapable of flying. I believe their record speaks for itself.

  • George "Buzz" Beurling was another distinctive fighter pilot that is one of the leading Canadian aces with 32 victories. His exploits in the defense of Malta and over Europe were overshadowed by his ability to irritate the RCAF chain of command.

  • Randy 'Duke' Cunningham is the US Navy's highest scoring ace over Vietnam. Flying the F-4 Phantom II, he and his RIO (Willie Driscoll) knocked down five MiGs and got blasted out of the sky once themselves. From his air combat experience, he helped to evolve the Top Gun school into an environment where Naval Aviators could hone their skills safely.

  • John Glenn is a Marine (never mind his current day job). He flew combat missions as an F4U pilot in the Pacific during WW2 and again as an exchange pilot flying the F-86 over Korea (scoring three MiG kills). He would later become the first American to orbit the Earth (the Russians would have the distinction of placing the first man into orbit) and later still becoming the only Mercury astronaut to return to space in the Space Shuttle.

The list goes on, but you get the idea - grab a kit and honor your favorite hero or heroes. And remember - not all heroes wore military uniforms. Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindberg, Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau, etc., all pushed the envelope in their respective fields. Firefighters and police officers push the envelope every day.

Get your model club(s) together and volunteer to display your various models in a public library, airport display case, or other appropriate venue as a way to keep public awareness focused on today's heroes and as our way of saying 'Thank You!'


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