New celebration takes flight in Creswell for veterans during pandemic


Dick Heyman cuts the ribbon to celebrate the new EAA memorial garden.

CRESWELL – The overcast and rainy weather Oregonians are so often doomed to this time of year held off on Veterans Day at the Hobby Field Airport. The traditional Veterans Day celebration that normally took place in Creswell was – like so many celebrations this year – cancelled. Barbara Heyman, wife of local retired Colonel Dick Heyman, said that they were passing the Hobby Field on the freeway and realized it would be great to have an airshow at the local airport.  

“It’s different,” Barbara Heyman said. Having the outside airshow event made it so people could still celebrate with a wide enough range for social distancing. 

Dick Heyman, who spent a lengthy career in the U.S. Air Force, serving in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, related the idea to airport manager Shelley Humble, who loved the idea.

Humble has lived in Creswell for almost 22 years. She said showing veterans appreciation has always been a big part of the community. “We have to take care of them. And this little bit that we can put together to say thank you? That’s the least I can do,” Humble said. 

Boy Scouts greeted incomers, handing a card to veterans specifically and giving thanks for their service. Celebrators were free to view the airplanes lined up for free rides later, or get coffee and build toy model airplanes with their kids. The Boy Scouts presented the flags, the Pledge of Allegiance was said and Humble’s daughter, Regan Humble, sang the National Anthem. 

Creswell residents Debbie Wright, State VFW Auxiliary president, and Rick Higgins, former State VFW Auxiliary commander attended the celebration and spoke on VFW legislative victories dating back from 1917 to this year’s “Widows Tax Correction victory,” which allows spouses of military troops who died in active-duty service or retirees who died from a service-connected cause to keep all compensation from the government. 

The airshow began with two bright yellow airplanes racing through the sky. The others took off to join them, decorating the blue sky with a couple of contrails.

Next, there was a ribbon-cutting to commemorate the new EAA Chapter 31 Memorial Garden. Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) memorials offer a special place to remember friends and family members who have passed.

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE The EAA Memorial Garden will be decorated with names of loved ones.

The memorials display names in different forms, such as a wall with name plaques or a brick garden. The Chapter 31 memorial at Hobby Field will display the names, birthday and death date of loved ones on red bricks surrounding two benches facing the runway. Dick Heyman held the scissors and cut the ribbon on the first try. Veterans and friends who were interested in a free airplane ride filled out a waiver and got ready to tour the Willamette Valley from a bird’s eye perspective.

“If anybody would like to have a loved one’s name engraved on a brick, they can get ahold of me,” Humble said. “The whole point is so then people can come and they can sit and think about their loved ones.”



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