AUGUSTA, Mich. — After the Memorial Day public ceremony at Fort Custer National Cemetery was canceled and groups weren’t allowed to put flags on the graves, retired Air Force Col. Frank Walker wanted to do something to honor veterans.
So he called a few friends with the Hooligans Flight Team and asked if they could do an informal flyover at Ft. Custer.
So, they did, surprising many visitors at the cemetery Monday afternoon.
“They do it from here,” Col. Walker said while tapping his heart. “These guys are just normal everyday citizens who put the time in their own plane, they fuel ‘em, and they do everything on their own dime to honor the veterans.”
Dozens of people sat several feet apart on the lawns at Ft. Custer as a handful of vintage T-34 planes — piloted by the Hooligans’ Chuck Stauffer, Rick Crepas, John Workman, Russ Borstleman, Bill Klungle — flew over them.
Other people parked their cars along the side of the road and watched.
“It’s still Memorial Day regardless if we’re home,” Walker said during an interview with FOX 17 on Monday. “Maybe you can’t get out. Maybe you’re vulnerable. Maybe you just can’t get out to the cemetery. But God bless you, you can pause for a moment."
Col. Walker said the flyover wasn’t just for the veterans. It was for all the men and women working on the frontlines, fighting the spread of COVID-19.
“We have other heroes,” said Col. Walker who also served with the Air National Guard. “I served in the military for 40 years. And you know believe me those nurses and doctors and first responders, I mean God bless them. They’re putting their life out in danger every single day.”
After flying over Ft. Custer, the Hooligans flew over Reese Cemetery and Memorial Park Cemetery in Battle Creek.
Col. Walker said he’s grateful that the Hooligans made this day so special for them.
“Veterans Day and Memorial Day is everyday for us, every single day,” Col. Walker said. “But we’re glad that we have a holiday that America can come together, Democrat, Republican, male or female, to honor all of those who gave us the right to live in the greatest nation on earth.”