It’s early on a Tuesday morning. Cars and pickups begin pouring into Williamsport’s Veterans Memorial Park loaded with some of the county’s most mature veterans – the boasting 90 years old. Out comes wood-cutting tools, sawhorses and drills. No time for jawing. There is work to be done.
“The park is a great opportunity not only to memorialize and remember all those who have served but it also serves as an excellent tool for the history of the United States and the military for this younger generation that may not have had any opportunity to learn about it,” said Charles Stutzman, co-chairman of the park commission.
“Yeah, we need younger commissioners,” said Denny Bennett, one of the youngest of the group at 62.
The park offers memorials for each of the nation’s wars, and hopes to soon add an A6 Intruder to it’s gallery. The new addition would be the first of its kind to be placed in a memorial park across the nation.
The A6 Intruder first was introduced during the Vietnam War and was the backbone of the Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet through the Gulf War, eventually being retired in the mid-1990s.
Currently owned by the Pennsylvania College of Technology, this particular A6 Intruder flew combat missions during the Gulf War. There are only 38 on display in the nation, according to Don Young, one of the park commissioners who is taking the lead on acquiring the plane.
Young added that through his research he found that each of the remaining planes were either on display on military bases or airports, none at a memorial park.
“We thought it would be a nice addition to the park,” Young said. “It means a lot to us, especially given the history of it.”
But getting the aircraft isn’t as simple as a donation by Penn College, it requires approval from the Pennsylvania Department of General Services so the park can take control of the plane – as it is still a military aircraft.
Most recently, the park commission has been told several documents still are needed to complete the transfer. The commission hopes to have the plane by next Memorial Day, said Charles Stutzman, co-chairman of the commission.
Reaching the youth
During the Tuesday work day, Bennett looks across the park, eyeing his fellow commissioners – some of whom he served with during the Golf War. He joined the park as a commissioner two years ago and, being the youngest, decided it was important to get on Facebook.
Building up a younger audience for the park is important, Bennett said. He has partnered with local high schools and colleges to get projects done around the park. Just a few years ago Penn College students helped build the brick wall that surrounds the memorial monuments.
The park is supported primarily through donations, but Bennett said it’s very important to get younger veterans involved as well.