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Local WWII Heroes and Aviation Legend Herb Kelleher to be Honored

Dallas – September 25, 2017 –In conjunction with CAF Wings Over Dallas, the largest WWII airshow in North Texas, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) will bring together luminaries of both the aviation and military history world to celebrate the enormous contributions of Texas heroes at their inaugural Legends of the Skies awards luncheon on Friday, October 6.

The Greatest Generation Award recognizes people that exemplify the spirit of the generation of Americans that fought for freedom, at home and abroad, during World War II. Honorees were selected for their representation of important values such as teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice, that were crucial to American victory. The 2017 Greatest Generation honorees include Retired Lt. Col. James Megellas, the most-decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division; Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, the last living participant in the Doolittle Raid; and, Pilot Orville Rogers, who trained bomber pilots for WWII and holds dozens of distance running titles.

The Aerospace Leadership Award recognizes people who have made a significant impact on the development of the aerospace industry in North Texas – the source of 1 out of every 6 jobs in the region. For 2017, Southwest Airlines co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher will be honored.

Full bios of all recipients are below.

“The Commemorative Air Force is committed to becoming an active partner in the North Texas community,” explains CAF President and CEO Bob Stenevik. “Acknowledging the accomplishments of these four amazing Texans is a logical next step in establishing the CAF as a credible partner in sharing the important aviation history story found right here in Dallas.”

The October 6 invitation only luncheon will be held on the grounds of Wings over Dallas at Executive Airport.


Herb Kelleher is the co-founder, Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. His strong leadership style and work ethic is responsible for bringing an untold number of jobs to the North Texas Aerospace industry. Today, Southwest Airlines is the largest airline in the United States, in terms of domestic originating boardings, and celebrates 44 consecutive years of profitability and of total job security for its Employees. Mr. Kelleher has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including the U.S. Chamber business Leadership Hall of Fame, CEO of the Decade—Airline Industry, Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, and the Airline Business Award, among many others.


Retired Lt. Col. James Megellas commanded a platoon in Company “H” of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He has received a Distinguish Service Cross, a Silver Star, and has been nominated for the Medal of Honor, making him the most-decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division. During his service, Lt. Col. Megellas participated in Operation Market Garden, Operation Shingle, Crossing the Waal River, and the Battle of the Bulge, among others.


Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole served as co-pilot to Gen. Jimmy Doolittle during the Doolittle Raid, an air raid that led 16 B-25 bombers and 80 crew members over Tokyo on April 18, 1942. He later served in the China-Burma-India Theater and as Operations Advisor to the Venezuelan Air Force. Today, he is the last surviving Doolittle Raider and has been decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.


Pilot Orville Rogers trained bomber pilots during World War II, participated in secret B-36 missions during the Korean Conflict, flew planes for Baptist missions across the world, and served as a pilot in the private sector for 31 years. Today, he is a world champion runner who holds fifteen world records to date and, at the age of 99, has ran over 42,000 miles. He is the author of several books, including The Running Man: Flying High for the Glory of God.


About the Commemorative Air Force:

Through six decades of collecting, restoring and flying World War II aircraft the CAF has become the world’s largest flying museum with a fleet of 165 airplanes supported by 11,000 volunteer members. Nearly all the aircraft are kept in flying condition enabling people to experience first-hand the sight and sound of vintage military aircraft in flight. The CAF, established in 1957, will celebrate its 60th Anniversary with festivities at the CAF Wings Over Dallas Airshow.  

CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition, education and remembrance. To further its mission the CAF produces many aviation events across the country, including the CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow, which annually attracts more than ninety thousand spectators and was honored as 2015 Airshow of the Year by the International Council of Airshows.

The organization recently relocated its national headquarters to Dallas Executive Airport where it plans to develop an educational campus that is expected to play a significant role in the economic and cultural revitalization of southern Dallas.

For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.

For media information, please contact:

Kim Pardon -- Pardonb29@gmail.com |(913) 636-6250

Kelly Hunter -- kelly@shiromasouthwest.com |(972) 489-4361

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