Community activist Paul Navone gives $25,000 to support the Millville Army Air Field Museum
Millville resident and community philanthropist Paul Navone (left) presents a check for $25,000 to the Millville Army Air Field Museum (MAAFM) on March 14, 2011. Accepting the check are Lisa Jester, executive director, and Chuck Wyble, president. The donation supports the mission of the museum to preserve the important WWII history of Millville Airport, honor veterans and the military, educate youth, and promote aviation. As a benefactor of the museum, Navone hopes to help support its existence into perpetuity. Millville Airport is “America’s First Defense Airport,” dedicated by the U.S. War Department in 1941 at the onset of WWII to protect the Atlantic coast from enemy invasion. Navone, 81, firmly believes in education, patriotism, and the work that the museum has done since its inception in 1988.Paul, thank you so much for your kindness and generosity!
The MAAFM was honored to receive a 2011 Building History Participation Grant from the Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission. We were one of just four organizations in the area selected, along with the Mauricetown Historical Society, New Sweden Colonial Farmstead, and Seabrook Educa-tional and Cultural Center.The grant focused on strategic planning and build-ing the capacity of historic organizations and brought us the knowledge and expertise of three consultants — Howard Green, Vicki Kramer, and Nancy Moses — to work with the museum board and executive director. The opportunity to interact closely with three highly respected experts, all with decades of experience working at and for museums and non-profit groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was truly immeasurable.The consultants sent detailed surveys to board members, held special planning meetings, reviewed documents, and observed board meetings. After encouraging dialogue and gathering information, they made suggestions about refining our mission and areas to focus on in the short and long term.
A culminating session was held on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at the Luciano Conference Center of Cumberland County College. Matt Pisar-ski, principal planner for Cumberland County, discussed general findings and ways to overcome the challenges that impact all four participating organizations. Executive director Lisa Jester and board members Chuck Wyble, Russell Davis, Donna Vertolli, Andy Kondrach, Jerry Benfer, Ed Lazar-check, and Robert Trivellini all attended. The event included an opportunity to meet and interact with board members from the other organizations, learn about each, and discuss ways to partner on future projects and events.
The event also included a major announcement made by the Cultural and Heritage Commission board chair Roy Kaneshiki, that the commission will be funding an initiative to pay for organizational memberships for different state and national his-torical organizations. Knowledge gained through these valuable memberships will build organizational capacity and help the museum obtain future funding. The MAAFM, along with the other historical groups, received detailed individual comprehensive assessments based on the consultant visits. The museum has already begun to implement a number of the recommendations from the three consultants. Major components from the assessments are going to be used in our plans for the museum’s future.
Funding for the MAAFM 2011 Building History Participation Grant was made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission.
Museum volunteers and community escorts pick up commemorative artifact for 10th Anniversary of 9/11
The Millville Army Air Field Museum (MAAFM) was awarded a commemo-rative steel beam from the World Trade Center by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It was picked up in New York on Thursday, September 8, 2011, and transported to the museum at Millville Airport by volunteers and numerous organizations and indi-viduals who offered to help escort the piece in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the September 11 attack.Joining in the escort were members of the Millville Police and Fire Depart-ments; the Vineland Police Department; the NJ State Police; members of the Red Knights, New Jersey Chapter 16; the Patriot Guard Riders; and numer-ous other military support groups. The transport effort was coordinated by Ed Lazarcheck, MAAFM board mem-ber/outreach director and U.S. Navy and Army veteran, who was called to New York after 9/11 as an employee of the NJ Department of Corrections to assist during the aftermath.“It was a time of tremendous sorrow and patriotism,” offered Lazarcheck. “I will never forget the things I saw at ground zero after the 9/11 tragedy and am honored to help bring this piece of the World Trade Towers to Millville so that we will always remember… just like Pearl Harbor.”Ed Lazarcheck and son Chris, a certified EMT and fire fighter with the Millville Fire Department, began the journey at 6:00am on Thursday to JFK Airport where they accepted the WTC artifact and transported it by truck to Millville, arriving at Millville Airport at 2:00pm.MAAFM chairman emeritus Andrew Kondrach, from Hammonton, NJ, initiated the effort to obtain the WTC artifact for the museum in July. Since that time the project has become a museum staff and volunteer effort.
Official word that the museum would receive the steel beam came on Sep-tember 2, just days before WTC 10th Anniversary ceremonies were set to begin on the weekend of September 10 and 11, 2011.
The WTC steel beam commemorative artifact was displayed at the City of Millville’s 9/11 commemorative cere-monies on Sunday, September 11. It was located at the Millville Fire Depart-ment building on Buck Street, where, at the same time that the first tower was struck, the names of the 343 fallen fire fighters were read aloud. The arti-fact was later moved to the city’s official public ceremony which took place at 6:30pm at Buck Park, at Buck and Main Streets.After these ceremonies, the WTC steel beam was returned to the Millville Army Air Field Museum, where it was put on permanent display for public view. MAAFM display/collections coordinator Joan Legg created an exhibit which honors this historic event with photos and narrative. “This was truly a group effort for the museum, and there are many dedi-cated volunteers and patriots whom we thank for making this happen,” said Lisa Jester, MAAFM executive director. “We cherish our WTC artifact and proudly display it as a tribute to this important event in America’s history.”The WTC steel beam awarded to the Millville Army Air Field Museum weighs approximately 206 pounds. “We are tremendously honored to have received this piece of history. It is small in size in comparison to some WTC artifacts, but huge in its meaning to us. Our display serves as a continu-ing memorial to the many heros who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and of America’s support in the after-math,” said Chuck Wyble, president of the MAAFM.
A 55-foot mural recognizing World War II aviation history of the Millville Army Air Base, America’s First Defense Air-port, was unveiled at a ceremony held on Thursday, May 12, 2011, at Millville Airport.The Millville Army Air Field Museum developed the project and commis-sioned the mural with funding made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission.Mural artist Samuel Donovan of Woodstown, NJ, who created the com-memorative Wall of Remembrance mural on Millville City Hall in 1997, designed this mural at Millville Airport to recognize the significance of the P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter-Bomber aircraft and the WWII pilots who flew them extensively in air battles in the European and Pacific theatres during the war. The Millville Army Air Field was a U.S. Army Air Corps base where more than 1,500 pilots received advanced fighter training in the P-47 Thunderbolt from 1941 through 1945.
The mural features images of WWII pilots William Rich, who currently resides in Vineland, and Bernie Borelli, from Malaga, NJ, who passed away in 2003. Both men served at the Millville Army Air Field during WWII as combat flight in-structors. Each flew numerous missions in P-47 Thunderbolts from bases in England during the war. Borelli left the service as a lieutenant colonel. His son Michael represented him at the unveiling ceremony. Bill Rich, now an 89-year-old widower, left service a captain.The commemorative mural is located on the side of a 4,000 square foot hangar operated by Big Sky Aviation at the corner of Petersen and Leddon Streets, where it faces incoming traffic looking toward airport runways. It is among the first sights for visitors to the air field and the museum. “We can’t think of a better way to commemorate Millville’s WWII aviation history than through our mural projects. They make our aviation heritage come alive,” said Robert Trivellini, MAAFM vice president and project coordinator. “The murals document the importance of local aviation history and demonstrate the value of visual communica-tion in our community.” “We are so pleased and excited to present this commemorative mural to the community,” said Russell Davis, MAAFM board chairman. “History and art go hand in hand and, with the help of Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission grants, we’ve made some great things hap-pen — murals in the historic district at Millville Airport, in the Millville Library on Buck Street, and now this huge salute to the aviation history of the Millville air field! We thank all involved and look forward to future collaborations to promote history and art in Millville.“Our special thanks go out to mural artist Sam Donovan for his powerful yet sensitive handling of the design. His artistic creativity and skills make this mural a treasured and valuable historic statement. We also thank Stanker & Galetto Build-ers for their assistance with equipment and installation of the mural, and Big Sky Aviation and the Delaware River and Bay Authority for allowing us to use this hangar as a centrally located view-ing point at Millville Airport.”
Our Millville ‘Wheels & Wings’ Air-show, held on Memorial Day Weekend at Millville Airport, proved to be a delightful sunshine-filled aviation celebration despite a last-minute announcement by the U.S. Navy that the Blue Angels would not be performing at the two-day event, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, 2011.Millville Airshow officials learned Thursday morning, two days prior to the event, that the Blue Angels would not perform at Millville, nor at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation, which is a long-standing tradition, following a safety stand down related to an inci-dent that took place at a performance in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Sunday, May 22.With a full slate of performers sched-uled, the Millville Airshow still proved to be an exciting aviation event! It featured the United States Air Force F-16 Viper West Demonstration Team as its headline performer, the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, and a list of world-class civilian aerobatic performers.
Wells Fargo Advisors was the present-ing sponsor of the 2011 Millville Wheels & Wings Airshow. The museum thanks them for their outstanding support of this event which honored all mili-tary and veterans. We also thank New Jersey Motorsports Park for adjusting their racing schedules to help allow the airshow to take place.“There was so much to see and do and we were fortunate to have outstanding weather both days,” said Lisa Jester, airshow director. “We were able to offer the community and airshow visitors great aviation performers, jets, WWII warbirds, and parachute dem-onstrations in the air from noon to 4:30 pm. The airshow featured more than 80 static display aircraft on the airport runways and ramps for up-close viewing. We had our large classic car show, a great lineup of vendors, food, and so much more that was edu-cational, exciting, and fun for all ages!”The U.S. Army Golden Knights, the official 12-person ‘Gold’ Parachute Team of the United States Army, jumped from 13,000 feet above the airport twice daily during the airshow. Airshow audiences were awed by their precision formations and expert tech-niques.
An official U.S. Army Golden Knights baton was presented each day during their performance to an out-standing community leader. Mayor Tim Shannon was the recipient on Saturday and Paul Navone, commu-nity activist, philanthropist, and friend of the museum, received the baton on Sunday, escorted to the airshow center by Miss New Jersey, Ashleigh Udolovas.The list of award-winning performers was highlighted by the U.S.A.F. F-16 Viper West Fighting Falcon demon-stration that closed the show each day with thunder and speed that wowed young and old! We thank them for taking the lead as our headline per-formance!Also featured were the Red Eagle Airsports aerobatic team, Lucas Oil Airshow aerobatics, a 1911 Curtiss Pusher early-aviation presentation by Ely-Curtiss Aerial Exhibitions, Tim Weber Airshows’ Geico Extra 300S, and Matt Chapman Airshows’ Embry-Riddle Eagle 580 Thunderbolt. There were WWII-vintage warbirds, modern military air power, and experimental and civilian aircraft displayed both days — in the air and on the ground.“We supported the Blue Angels’ deci-sion not to perform and stayed on track to present an outstanding two-day airshow event,” said Chuck Wyble, MAAFM president. “We can never jeopardize the safety of our airmen or our airshow audiences.”There are so many people to thank for helping to make the Millville Airshow 2011 a success! In addition to Present-ing Sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors, we offer special thanks to our Top Gun Sponsors: Dallas Airmotive, Boeing Corporation, Delaware River & Bay Authority, Duffy & Partners Philadel-phia Lawyers, Big Sky Aviation, South Jersey Healthcare, Century Savings Bank, Center City–The Heart of Mill-ville/AHOME Inc., Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union, Stanker & Galetto Builders, Heritage Daily Stores, PPG Aerospace, Cooper/Atlantic Ambu-lance Corporation, NJ Motorsports Park, Cumberland County, and the City of Millville. Thanks also to our numerous Patriot Sponsors for their generous support!
It is very hard to believe how much we accomplished in 2011 and in the first months of 2012, and this newsletter definitely showcases our museum’s progress.
The MAAFM continues to present the WWII history of “America’s First Defense Airport” to visitors, students, and historians on a day-to-day bases and to honor the contributions of our WWII and other veterans. Our events and programs are interesting, educational and fun.
I welcome Chuck Wyble as our new museum president. Chuck has been a member of the MAAFM board for many years and stepped right into this new role without hesitation. Russell Davis now serves as our museum chairman. The two of them, along with Bob Trivellini, vice president; Jerry Benfer, secretary; John Knoop, treasurer; John Flint, historian; and the rest of our board members, make a great leadership team!
The MAAFM administrative team also includes our staff, museum membership, and volunteers. Each day we are reminded that we cannot accomplish our mission alone and we thank this core group of individuals for their hard work and dedication to our mission. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Bonnie Henderson, a long-time museum volunteer and employee, for her many years of service.
The unexpected cancellation of the Blue Angels for our Millville Airshow in May 2011 certainly presented a challenge, but our dedicated group of volunteers pulled together to help make it a fantastic aviation event regardless. Many thanks go out to these individuals and groups for numerous volunteer hours and dedicated support. We also thank your many sponsors for their understanding and support. Thanks to our sponsors, volunteers, and two beautiful sunny days, Millville Airshow 2011 was a success!
We invite all of you to please stop by and visit the Millville Army Air Field Museum. There are many new exhibits that are worth the trip and we would love for you to share your interesting experiences with us.
In 2012 and ongoing, we are looking forward to continuing our mission and reaching the many new goals our future holds!
— Lisa Jester