New for Memorial Day: Flyover by F-15 fighter

By Jayson Jacoby May 16, 2012 08:51 am

By JAYSON JACOBY

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Baker City’s annual Memorial Day commemoration will feature a new event this year.

But you had better not blink at the wrong time, lest you miss it.

An F-15 fighter jet from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls is scheduled to fly over Mount Hope Cemetery about 12:15 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 28.

The Memorial Day ceremony will start at 11 a.m. at the cemetery.

The Lone Pine Tree chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) arranged for the flyover with a jet from the 173rd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard, 114th Fighter Squadron.

Lt. Col. Robert Mitchell is the pilot scheduled to do the flyover, weather permitting.

Mitchell will then fly north to do a flyover at La Grande.

Weather or operational problems could change the time the F-15 flies over Baker City, or force Mitchell to cancel the flight altogether.

“So hope for clear skies,” said Lynne Zwanziger, registrar for the DAR’s Lone Pine Tree chapter.

Zwanziger said the DAR applied for a flyover by a National Guard fighter jet from a base in Portland last year, but that flight was canceled.

The Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Mount Hope Cemetery on South Bridge Street.

Avenue of Flags, the local nonprofit group that helps to organize the event, is seeking volunteers.

There are four main tasks, said Doug Riggs, Avenue of Flags president.

On Saturday morning volunteers will place American flags on veterans’ graves. Riggs also has free flags for relatives who want to decorated a veteran’s grave.

On Memorial Day, helpers will gather at Mount Hope at 6 a.m. to put up the avenue of flags inside the cemetery.

Crews will return at 5 p.m. Monday to remove those flags, which are flown only on Memorial Day, Riggs said.

Finally, on Tuesday, May 29, volunteers will pick up the smaller graveside flags.

Anyone interested in helping can call Riggs at 541-519-7424.

“This is a community project, and everyone is welcome to come and help,” he said.

Each year during the Memorial Day ceremony, casket flags, which are given to veterans’ families by the U.S. military, are dedicated during the event and added to the Avenue of Flags.

Anyone who would like to have an official casket flag dedicated this year should call either Riggs or Jeanette Hull, Avenue of Flags secretary/treasurer, at 541-419-6868, preferably by May 23.

Families can donate $25 to cover the cost of the flagpole, although the donation is not required.

Donations to Avenue of Flags are tax-deductible.