B-1 flyover part of Sturgis veteran’s ceremony
by Steven J. Merrill
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
7/14/2015 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- A base B-1 bomber will provide a flyover down Main Street in Sturgis, S.D., at 3 p.m., Aug. 4 as part of the 15th Annual Veterans Recognition Ceremony.
The flyover will cap off an event formally recognizing four South Dakota veterans - one each from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War - and their families for their service.
"The B-1 flyover is one of the iconic moments during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally," said Brenda Vasknetz, City of Sturgis Rally and Events Department director. "While the flyover is one part of our annual Military Appreciation Day, it is the highlight of the week for many riders. It is not just 'any' flyover - it is part of a series of events orchestrated to commemorate, recognize and show our appreciation for our military, veterans and their families."
One of the veterans to be recognized is retired Lt. Col. George Swan, a former B-1 weapon system officer who served 21 years and accrued 3,200 flying hours, including 400 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The three other veterans to be honored include former U.S. Army Pfc. Paul Priest, 9th Armored Division, who served at the battle for the Ludendorff Railway Bridge at Remagen over the Rhine River, retired Lt. Col. Jerry Teachout, a pilot who served in all four wars during his 28-year career, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Birnbaum, a combat veteran who served in Vietnam and then joined the South Dakota Army National Guard, becoming the fifth state command sergeant major of the SDNG.
Vasknetz said the B-1 flyover is the culmination of the Minute of Silence on Main Street in Sturgis.
"During this minute, traffic stops, motorcycle engines are shut down, people hug or pat the backs of those who have served, and the crowds are silent," she said. "Main Street is 'frozen' as we reflect on the freedoms that our military and its veterans have protected throughout our nation's history."
Vasknetz added that having the B-1 flying over Main Street during the 75th Sturgis Rally will be a powerful and exciting affirmation of the city's dedication and appreciation for all those who have served and those currently defending the freedoms we all hold dear.
"We could not be more excited," she said.
For more information on the Military Appreciation Day at Sturgis, S.D., visit www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com.