F-105 Thunderbird Memorial Restored

Hundreds of Active Duty and former members of the Thunderbird demonstration team recently gathered at Nellis AFB, Nev., to dedicate a model-scale F-105 in honor of a fallen comrade. The replica, which now sits in front of the Thunderbirds hangar, includes a memorial plaque with the name Capt. Gene Devlin, an F-105 pilot who died when his aircraft exploded mid-air in 1964 over Hamilton AFB, Calif., states a Nov. 19 base release. In the 1970s, the replica greeted visitors entering Nellis’ front gate, but officials had to remove it in 1999 as they worked to realign base roads, states the release. The 600-pound red, white, and blue memorial sat in a remote area on base for almost 13 years until a RED HORSE civil engineering squadron discovered it in the summer of 2012. “I had no idea what it was,” said TSgt. Anthony Graham, a former Thunderbird maintenance professional. When he realized it was a memorial, Graham contacted the History Channel’s American Restoration star Rick Dale to restore it. The Thunderbirds Alumni Association paid $10,000 for restoration costs. That fall, the show featured the restored replica on an episode, but the official dedication ceremony—which took place Nov. 15 in front of the Thunderbird hangar—was put off for a year to accommodate the 2013 NDAA reunion, states the release.