WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
CLOSEOpt Out: I already like WMFE!

Like us on Facebook!

Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Joe Kittinger’s Phantom a Tribute to Vietnam Vets


Play Audio

Central Florida has a new memorial to Vietnam veterans.

An F-4 phantom II fighter plane towers over Col. Joe Kittinger Park at Orlando Executive Airport.

Kittinger flew this plane on four combat missions over North Vietnam- and again in the 1970s when he was stationed in England.

“I’ve had a long history with this airplane, and I’m just delighted that just by circumstances, that’s the airplane we got,” says Kittinger.

The plane was shipped to Orlando from Texas where it had been displayed at a college.

Here in Orlando the supersonic jet is mounted on a pedestal as if in flight- commuters can see it soaring over the 408 East-West expressway.

Kittinger says it looks just like it did in Vietnam- right down to the hydraulic fluid stains on the wing.

“That’s there to show you that it really is an F-4 because the airplane always leaks hydraulic fluid,” he says.

“It’s a gesture- I told them just leave it on there, don’t clean it up.”

He says the memorial is a symbol of respect for the men and women who served in Vietnam- including more than 300 from Central Florida who lost their lives.

“The Vietnam veterans were not treated properly, when they came home they were not welcomed back,” says Kittinger.

“They got really bum treatment. And I’ve always felt really bad about that- they didn’t get the respect that they deserved.”

Kittinger was shot down over Vietnam towards the end of the war- he was imprisoned in the same prison camp as Senator John McCain.

The memorial is being dedicated in a ceremony Sunday afternoon, with dignitaries including Mayor Buddy Dyer, Rep. John Mica, and military personnel including some of Kittinger’s former squadron members.

The 2 p.m. dedication ceremony at Col. Joe Kittinger Park is open to the public.

 

 


Sign Up For 90.7 WMFE's Newsletter

Catch up on the latest Central Florida news and get updates on programs, events and more.

SUBSCRIBE

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

TOP