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Heroes to be Enshrined into Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, Duncan Aviation to Receive Award

April 13, 2009

Source: Jennifer Cunningham
Job Title: Communications & Public Relations Manager
Phone: 269.382.6555 ext. 12
Email: jcunningham@airzoo.org

For Immediate Release

KALAMAZOO, Mich.-On Saturday, April 18, four men with Michigan connections will be enshrined into the Air Zoo's Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, including a local Kalamazoo man. During the same ceremony, Duncan Aviation and author James Tobin will also be honored.

Duncan Aviation will be presented with the "Spirit of Flight" award at the ceremony, which highlights the outstanding achievements of aviation/space organizations. From a small Beechcraft distributorship in the 1950s to providing avionics services in reputable maintenance facilities and more than one million square feet of hangar space, Duncan Aviation has helped shape the airline industry.

The four enshrines into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame include:

Walter B. Forbes, USAF Fighter and Transport Pilot in three wars
Born in Niles, Michigan and currently residing in Kalamazoo, Colonel Forbes served as a USAF pilot in World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. He flew a P-47 'Gal from Kalamazoo' in air-to-air and ground combat on 72 missions, destroying one confirmed ME-109. Forbes also supported the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944, flying combat missions over the invasion zone. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, DFC with cluster, Air Medal with 16 clusters and a Bronze Star.

Duane Hackney, USAF (PJ) Pararescueman
Born in Flint, Michigan, Chief Master Sergeant Hackney volunteer for Vietnam duty to be lowered down into the jungle to look for survivors of downed aircraft and to provide medical treatment and rescue. He was wounded on his first rescue mission three days after reporting for duty, but did not report his injury in order to avoid being grounded. He went on to fly more than 200 combat rescue missions and flew in five helicopters that were shot down. Hackney was awarded 28 decorations for valor in combat and more than 70 awards and decorations in all, including four Distinguished Flying Crosses and 18 Air Medals, He was also awarded the Air Force Cross for a heroic mission on February 6, 1967 and is the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force History. Hackney passed away in 1993.

Kenneth Porter, World War I Fighter Pilot and Flying Ace
A University of Michigan graduate born in Dowagiac, Michigan, Mr. Porter was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Service in January 1918. He was assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron and flew the Nieuport 28 and then the SPAD XIII in combat over France. He became an Ace with his fifth victory on October 12, 1918 (he also had three unconfirmed victories). Porter was appointed flight commander and was shot down and crash-landed three times. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre. During World War II, he worked for Boeing and helped develop the hydraulic system for the Martin B-26 Marauder. Porter passed away in 1988.

Harry Stewart, World War II Fighter Pilot and Tuskegee Airman
A New York City native who currently lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and still flies, Lt. Colonel Stewart enlisted in the USAAC as an Aviation Cadet and completed his flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant while still a teenager and was assigned to the 332th Fighter Group, Fifteenth Air Force in Italy. Stewart flew 43 bomber escort missions in a P-51 Mustang and destroyed three ME-109s in areal combat. He was a member of the winning team flying a P-47 Thunderbolt in the "First U.S. Air Force Fighter Gunnery Meet," now known as "Top Gun," in May 1949. He was awarded DFC and Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

Also during the ceremony, University of Michigan graduate James Tobin will be presented with the "Harriet Quimby" award for his contributions to the history of flight through his books. His first book, Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II, won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.

The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. and includes dinner with a cash bar and the Master of Ceremonies will be Channel 3 anchor Tom VanHowe. VanHowe spent four years in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Tickets are $60 per person ($35 is a tax deductible gift as allowed by law, see your tax professional for details). Tickets include all-day admission to the Air Zoo and will be available until April 15. To reserve your tickets to the Air Zoo's Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, please call 269.382.6555.

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