Friday, April 30, 2010

Urgent - Collings Foundation Needs Your Help!

For our readers that don't receive the Newsletter from the Collings Foundation  - 
Here's the link if you'd like to subscribe to their letter.

15 Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and 120 Prisoners of War Unite with the Collings Foundation to Honor Vietnam Veterans and Return a F-105 Thunderchief to the Sky, But Today the resistance Ironically is the U.S. Government!

We Urgently Need Your Help Before This History Is Lost!

For the past 21 years the Collings Foundation has been deeply dedicated to honoring veterans and educating
younger generations through our “Wings of Freedom Tour”. The Collings Foundation feels that all veterans should be honored for their service, so again with your help, we started the “Vietnam Memorial Flight” and now have the only privately owned and operated F-4 Phantom and a TA-4 Skyhawk. These two aircraft offer Vietnam Veterans the opportunity to gather, reflect and share their memories with each other; show their families the aircraft that they flew, maintained, or saw overhead helping to protect our troops. The most prolific and important aircraft of the Vietnam war, the F-105, of which over half were lost during Vietnam, now faces its most devastating opponent from returning to flight, the US Government.

Nearly four decades after the United States ceased combat operations in Vietnam, a group of highly distinguished veterans are striving to honor their fellow Service-members in a unique and deeply meaningful
fashion. Their goal is to return a Vietnam-era F-105 fighter-jet to the sky on a mission of recognition and education. According to Medal of Honor recipient and 6-year Prisoner of War Colonel Leo Thorsness (ret), “It is one thing to see “my” aircraft mounted on a pole or gathering dust in a museum, quite another to see it roar down the runway and take to the sky. This means a lot to me and my fellow veterans—it gives us a chance to show our families how we served our country.” Fourteen other recipients of the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, have banded together with Col. Thorsness in this valiant effort. To see Medal of Honor support letter click here.

Col. Thorsness (picture on left), President, Medal of Honor Society and his fellow veterans are partnering in this endeavor with the Collings Foundation. In the late 1990s the Foundation expanded its mission to honor Vietnam Veterans by acquiring and restoring an F-4 Phantom, TA-4 Skyhawk, and UH-1 Huey for its “Vietnam Memorial Flight." The impact of these flying aircraft is quite remarkable, for they are unique “living” memorials that resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds.

However, it was clear to veterans like Col. Thorsness that the Vietnam Memorial Flight would be incomplete if it did not include an airworthy F-105 Thunderchief. Tasked with conventional strike and SAM suppression missions deep within enemy territory, the odds faced by “Thud” crews were the envy of few. About half the F-105s built were shot down, and over half of all US bombing
missions flown in Vietnam were undertaken by “Thuds.” In total, 150 F-105 crewmembers were killed during operations in Vietnam, and a further 100 “Thud” crewmembers were held captive as prisoners of war. Put quite simply, flying F-105s during Vietnam yielded a very unique understanding of dedication to duty and sacrifice.

Acquiring an F-105 to restore to airworthy condition is no easy feat—even for a group that includes 15 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and 120 former Prisoners of War. This initiative requires Congressional authorization, whereby an aircraft is transferred at no cost from the government to the Collings Foundation. Whether the Collings Foundation and the group are successful or not will be determined next week.

The House Armed Services Committee is currently considering language submitted by Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA) to enable the transfer. According to former F-105 pilot, 5-year POW, and past Air Force Association Chairman of the Board Gene Smith: “We served our country over the skies of Southeast Asia and after being shot down we continued to uphold the highest standards of military conduct as prisoners of war. Getting an F-105 back into the skies means a great deal to me—we gave a lot for this country; many of my friends gave with their lives. I think this sacrifice and dedication to duty merits recognition.” The transfer and restoration of the F-105 will be at NO cost to the U.S. Government, in fact the Collings Foundation has never received any funding from the U.S. Government for any of its programs.

In an effort to secure an F-105, the Collings Foundation has spent the last few years trying to work with the Air Force. However, the Service chose to oppose the project—even though it would occur at no cost to the US Government and include hold-harmless provisions to ensure that the Air Force was no longer legally liable for the aircraft. They are turning their backs on our veterans and the 120 American POW heroes that combined have spent over 300 horrific years in camps like the "Hanoi Hilton" in North Vietnam that support this effort. Faced with this obstacle, the Collings Foundation turned to Capitol Hill and is now working to secure an F-105 through legislation. The issue is currently being decided and we need your support. All of the crews that bravely flew in the skies of South East Asia never questioned the risk/reward; they just did what was right. It is time the US Government does the same.

George Washington

We urgently need your help to right this wrong. These Medal of Honor Recipients and POW’s gave so much to all of us Americans. Now need you on their team, backing them up. Every person that reads this needs to call. Do not rely on others doing this for you. Our nations heroes deserve better and your opinion really matters and you can be a hero to these brave men. We need you to call Chairman Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today. If you do not act the Air Force will destroy the remaining potentially flyable F-105’s, ensuring that our veterans will never be adequately honored-we cannot let this happen!

Please call 202-225-2876 right now and tell Chairman Skelton’s staff that you want to be on record that this is an issue for Representative Skelton as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and that:
  • You strongly urge Chairman Skelton to support Congresswomen Tsongas’ Amendment that would transfer an F-105 to the Collings Foundation; the F-105 will not fly with out Chairman Skelton’s support.
  • You support our nation’s veterans and are disturbed by the US Government’s unwillingness to support this initiative.
  • You would stress that the Collings Foundation has never in the past nor ever will seek any funding from the federal government.
  • You oppose any other compromise legislation that would threaten the success of the F-105 transfer.
Tell the staffers of Chairman Skelton that you would like your call counted and documented.
Please forward this to all that would be outraged that our government would resist honoring our veterans.

The Collings Foundation
PO Box 248
Stow, Massachusetts 01775
978.562.9182 -

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