There were 1,500 pilots awarded the title American Fighter Ace in World War II. There are only 70 of those men are still alive today. Last week, 15 of them were at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Spreading Wings Gala.
An American Fighter Ace has made a name among the elite pilots by proving prowess in aerial combat. These pilots in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, had the skills and the courage to face mission after mission and still make it home alive.
The Spreading Wings Gala was on Saturday, November 5th. Coming from ten states, the fifteen honorees each have a Congressional Gold Medal – the highest honor Congress can give a civilian.
Mark Hyatt, the president of Wings Over the Rockies, said that the Museum was honored to host the veterans. He praised the aces for their skill, courage, and selflessness.
Col. Richard Candelaria is one of the honorees. He says that the American Fighter Ace is the most exclusive club. The only way to join is to prove yourself in aerial combat, 9news.com reported.
A highlight of the evening was ceremonial unveiling of “Lest We Forget: The Mission,” a series of bronze sculptures by Maj. Frederic Arnold, USAAC (Ret.) The exhibit honors and promotes the heritage of US combat pilots.