Flying over Main Street Conference
By John Joyce
Published in News on March 18, 2016 1:46 PM
News-Argus Video Report
A four-ship flyover by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base 4th Fighter Wing F-15E Strike Eagles celebrated the partnership of the community and the base Thursday afternoon in conjunction with the N.C. Main Street Conference.
From left, Tatiana Hollinger, Narijah Davis and Nyasia Faison, fourth-graders at Meadow Lane Elementary School, sing the national anthem Thursday to begin the rededication of the restored F-86 fighter jet at the intersection of Ash and Center streets.
Three little girls stood before a sea of uniformed airmen and citizens assembled beside the roundabout at the mouth of North Center Street Thursday, where the city rededicated its model F-86 fighter jet.
Minutes before a flyover by four F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's 4th Fighter Wing, Tatiana Hollinger, 9, Narijah Davis, 10, and Nyasia Faison, 10 -- fourth-graders at Meadow Lane Elementary School -- harmonized an a capella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Goldsboro City Manager Scott Stevens, Mayor Chuck Allen and 4th Fighter Wing Commander Mark Slocum then addressed the crowd, including some of the more than 600 visitors in town for the 2016 Main Street Conference.
"What I want them to see is what a partnership this is between the city, the county and the base. One of the reasons for this flyover is to symbolize that partnership," Allen said. "And I think once these planes fly overhead, it will be an awesome experience that they will never forget."
Allen said the plane -- on loan to the city from the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio -- has been moved a couple of times since coming to Goldsboro, but is now in its final location.
"This is awesome. We are just as excited as we can be to have this rededication of this plane," he said.
Col. Slocum spoke briefly before turning things over to the local-youth drumline, A Drummers World led by Alando Mitchell, which provided the rolling introduction of the F-15s.
He complimented the men and women of the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron who toiled more than a year over the F-86's refurbishing, and he emphasized the important connection between the base and the surrounding community symbolized by the fighter jet's placement.
"The Goldsboro community has been a critical part to the success of the 4th Fighter Wing's mission since we arrived in 1959. We rely on each other's support, and we share in each other's daily challenges," Slocum said.
He said the all-volunteer maintenance crews added fresh metal, they installed new wing tips, and they restored the F-86 to the color scheme it had back in its heyday, "when it was shooting down bad guys."
During the Korean War using this very jet, the 4th Interceptor Wing shot down more enemy aircraft in that conflict than the rest of the entire Air Force put together. This is a record that truly defies the imagination and will certainly never be duplicated, Slocum said.
"The 4th Interceptor wing also accounted for 25 of the 40 aces that we had during the Korean War in the Air Force," he said.
That number included Maj. James "Jabby" Javara, who is the Fourth Interceptor Wing pilot whose name is inscribed on the aircraft.
"Upon his fifth kill in Korea, he became America' first all-jet ace," Slocum said.
The dignitaries, military personnel and out of town guests -- along with the families whose small children tumbled in the grass until the planes flew overhead -- each shielded their eyes and craned their necks skyward as the F-15s passed.
Slocum said he hoped all those in attendance took away something positive from the experience, especially the out of town guests who came to visit Goldsboro and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
"These visitors have to know how important the training is for these warriors before they go overseas, and our low-level routes run all over this state, right by their communities. So it is good for them to see the value of that training," he said. "They came out to the base and met many of our airmen and saw the airplanes and the mission up close."
Slocum said the attendees during the base visit saw how critical the training is for the airmen before they are sent down range and deployed to what he called "some dangerous places" on behalf our nation.
"The training, the bombing range and the low-level space is absolutely critical to our airmen being ready to go to war," he said.
And that is what makes being part of a community so important, he said.
"We are in the social fabric of this community, and the fact that we are welcomed with open arms, that people are hiring our spouses to work, to be employed in this town, that we are all working together toward a great education -- we are doing everything in this community so that our airmen, our warriors, can go overseas and do our nations work and not have to worry about what is going on here at home."