Wed, Jan 11, 2006
F-105 Will Be Displayed To Honor Its Pilot
A rare Republic F-105 Thunderchief that has been displayed at
Lackland AFB since the end of the Vietnam War is on its way to the
northwestern Illinois town of Centralia, where it will honor the
man who once flew the sleek fighter-bomber.
Clark Wiens began his quest to move the "Red River Queen" -- or,
as family members of the late Col. Bill Pachura call it, "Bill's
Thud" -- shortly after Pachura, Wien's brother-in-law, died of
cancer in 2002. Prior to Pachura's death, Wiens arranged a reunion
for the retired Colonel, and the airplane he flew, at Lackland --
where the F-105 was being used for security training exercises.
According to the Associated Press, Pachura retired from the Air
Force in the late 1970s as a lieutenant colonel and was the
recipient of two Distinguished Flying Cross awards. He is buried at
Arlington National Cemetary... but he was originally from
Centralia, and Wiens says several of his family members still live
in the town of 14,000.
After Pachura's death, Wiens renewed his efforts to have the
aircraft moved on his brother-in-law's behalf. He is also putting
together a 90-minute film using war footage on Pachura and his
fellow Vietnam-era pilots.
"It is the most rewarding thing I have done in my life," Wiens
told the AP. The costs of the project weren't important, he
The aircraft will be trucked to Tulsa -- not far from the actual
Red River -- from the San Antonio-area base. The aircraft will then
be moved to its new home.
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