Hank Boerner
Hank Boerner


Boerner's Corner - The Spirit of America Update - (12/17/07 - 2) Arlington at Christmas

June 23, 2008 post

The United States Navy's Blue Angels aerial team flies by Lady Liberty in New York Harbor

This photo should have special meaning for all Americans. The US Navy guards the oceans and makes the globe safer for Americans and billions of other people by the power it can project, especially from the Navy's carrier forces. And the proud symbol of Naval Aviation is the Blue Angels flying team. The Blue Angels thrill millions every year with their dramatic air shows featuring carefully choreographed maneuvers. Today the team flies at 66 air shows at 35 air show sites in the USA, flying the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet.

The first Blue Angels aircraft flown were Grumman Hellcats and Bearcats and later the jet Panther and Cougar - all made on Long Island, our home turf, by skilled craftsman of Grumman Aerospace & Engineering Co (now Northrup-Grumman).

We were proud to have produced the Blue Angels' 25th Anniversary air show in the New York region, at Westhampton, Long Island (at the former Air Force Base, now Suffolk County Airport). More than 250,000 people crowded onto the airport and filled the surrounding roads on over two days on a July 4th weekend for the thrilling show. The 25th Anniversary team flew powerful McDonnell F-4 fighter jets. It's a memory we will always cherish and the highlight of my days as an air show producer and commentator. Great young men flew those powerful airplanes, at risk to themselves.

Sadly, the leader of that team whom I worked with, Captain Harley Hall, was shot down over Viet Nam in the last days of the war. I wear his MIA/POW bracelet. He was later commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143 on board the USS Enterprise. On January 27, 1973, his F-4J Phantom jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he bailed out over North Vietnam. His partner LCDR Phillip Kientzler was repatriated in 1973; Harley Hall was MIA for many years.

He was the last Navy casualty of the war and was shot down at the very end of the war, earning the distinction of being the last American POW. Captain Hall was declared deceased. He left behind a widow, Mary Lou Hall, who I remember following along after the team in her own little airplane, which she piloted!

Check out the Blue Angels Web site: http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/

Check out Captain Harley Hall (pictured below) on: http://www.blueangels.org/History/Hall/POWMIA.htm

Copyright 2005 H.L. Boerner. All rights reserved.

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