VANDALIA — One of the most thrilling sights for aviation lovers of all ages is silver gleam that comes from a World War II era bomber flying through the sky.
The crew of the B-25 Panchito hopes that thrill can also be used to gain attention to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization as it visits different air shows this summer.
The Panchito was in the lineup for last weekend’s Vectren Dayton Air Show, and prior to the show media members were taken up for rides in the historic aircraft owned by Larry Kelley. Kelley, along with his crew, presented the DAV’s Strength & Courage…Then & Now award to Dayton resident Vince Dec.
Dec served in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange which left him with various illnesses as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through all his trials and tribulations, Dec has continued to help those in need by volunteering with the Lupus Association, Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Dayton Veteran’s Hospital and other organizations.
Dec has volunteered nearly 7,000 hours at the Dayton DAV Chapter and the VA Hospital over the past six years.
“I love what I am able to do by being a DAV member,” said Dec. “The DAV is such an elite organization that helped me and takes care of other veterans and their families. I am a proud DAV life member since 1978.”
The 1.2 million member DAV was founded in 1920 by disabled veterans returning from World War I to represent their unique interests. In 1932, the DAV was chartered by Congress as the official voice of the nation’s disabled veterans.
The organization assists 200,000 veterans and their families annually and operates a comprehensive network of volunteers who provide veterans free rides to and from medical facilities. It also works to improve care and morale for sick and wounded veterans.
The Panchito was built in 1944 and is the same type of plane used in the famous Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. Launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, the raid is widely believed to lift American morale after a series of territorial losses following the attack at Pearl Harbor. The raid was also intended to convince the Japanese that their homeland was not out of the reach of American forces.