- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Aviation greats fly into Montgomery and Maxwell Air Force Base Tuesday through Saturday as part of the annual Gathering of Eagles capstone event for students at Air Command and Staff College. The 2014 Gathering of Eagles event will recognize 13 military heroes of aviation as they share personal experiences with students at lectures.

The Air Force Association Montgomery chapter will hold a luncheon in their honor Thursday in the Capital City Club Terrace Ballroom. To register, visit afa102.net.

James Dotherow, retired Army soldier and Air Force Reservist, said he has attended the event 12 years in a row, and this year will be no different.

“(Gathering of Eagles) is one of the most phenomenal examples of heroic service,” Dotherow said. “To hear these guys tell their stories … there’s no ego, it’s their stories of fighting for their country and the guy next to them.”

The Eagles will also be honored at the Riverwalk Stadium at the Biscuit’s GEO Celebration game, where it is customary for an Eagle to throw out the first pitch.

Meet the Eagles:

. Col. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, Air Force retired, is a World War II triple ace with 16¼ air victories in the European theater. His 30-year career encompasses flying 90 different types of aircraft.

. Brig. Gen. John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Jr., U.S. Army retired, is one of America’s most decorated soldiers from the Vietnam War. He engaged the enemy from nearly every type of aircraft and was an expert strategist whose military tactics became doctrine.

. Col. Kenneth S. Collins Sr., U.S. Air Force retired, is a pioneer in the discipline of strategic reconnaissance flight. After completing 118 combat sorties in Korea, Collins volunteered as a test pilot for the CIA’s highly classified “Oxcart” program.

. Maj. Barry F. Crawford Jr., U.S. Air Force active duty, was awarded the Air Force Cross for actions on May 4, 2010, while serving as a Special Tactics Officer. His assault force repelled 150 enemy fighters within the Laghman Province, Afghanistan, with Crawford calling in over 40 airstrikes and controlling 33 aircraft during a 10-hour firefight.

. Master Sgt. Joseph R. Deslauriers, U.S. Air Force active duty, is an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician with more than 16 years of service. He earned a Silver Star for rescuing two injured marines from an IED minefield in Afghanistan.

. Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu, WASP, is a veteran pilot of World War II. She earned her wings with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), the first women to fly American military aircraft. Haydu’s honors include induction into two Aviation Halls of Fame and the Congressional Gold Medal.

. Alfred C. “Al” Haynes, United Airlines pilot, retired, managed to land United Airlines Flight 232 after it had a catastrophic engine failure and a complete hydraulic system failure, saving 184 of 296 onboard.

. Chief Warrant Officer Karl H. Maier, U.S. Army retired, earned a Silver Star and two Air Medals with Valor in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was the Assault Flight Lead and MH-6 “Little Bird” pilot during Operation Gothic Serpent and risked his life to save two crew members of “Super 6-1,” and MH-60 Black Hawk downed by enemy fire.

. Capt. James H. McClain, U.S. Air Force, flew 27 combat missions during World War II. He was the navigator of a B-24D Liberator during Operation Tidal Wave, a daring low-level attack on Romanian oil refineries in 1943. Of the 178 aircraft taking off that day, only 88 returned.

. Lt. Thomas R. Norris, U.S. Navy retired, was a Navy SEAL who earned a Medal of Honor in Vietnam for rescuing two downed airmen deep behind enemy lines.

. Col. Gaillard R. “Evil” Peck, Jr., Air Force retired, is the creator and former commander of the USAF’s highly classified MiG squadron. The program created by Peck would train Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircrews to a degree of proficiency that ultimately resulted in extreme U.S. air dominance during Operation Desert Storm.

. Capt. Yves “Jetman” Rossy, Swiss Air Force retired, is a former fighter pilot and innovator who, in November 2006, became the first and only person to fly with a jet-propelled wing.

. Lt. Col. James C. “Jim” Warren is a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII and has flown 173 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam. Known today as “The Mutiny at Freeman Field,” he was among the first of 61 officers to be arrested for entering the segregated officer’s club to protest discrimination.

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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