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Arlington airfield dedicate to Wesley Schierman
ARLINGTON — The Black Jack Squadron's Missing Man formation that flew over the Arlington Municipal Airport July 21 was itself missing one of its most important men.
The pilots were paying tribute to retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Wesley Schierman, one of three founders of the squadron in 1990, who died Jan. 4.
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert was joined by Schierman's widow, Faye, in cutting the ribbon to the sign dedicating the airport's historical airfield to Schierman.
"Leadership, is action, not words," Tolbert said. "Today we will dedicate the Arlington Airport to a man whose actions exemplified his leadership."
Schierman's long career in aviation included stints not only in the Air Force and Washington Air National Guard, but also as a commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines.
He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam from Aug. 28, 1965, to Feb. 12, 1973, before retiring from active duty in 1974. Likewise, by the time he retired from Northwest as a Boeing 747 captain in 1995, he'd logged more than 15,000 flight hours.
The Black Jack Squadron, which Schierman co-founded, is a formation flight demonstration team, whose pilots volunteer to fly Missing Man missions for fallen Pacific Northwest veterans.
During his memorial at the Boeing Museum of Flight, Schierman was lauded as one of the four strongest leaders of the 400-plus men residing at the Hanoi Hilton.
"But to know these things about Wes was to scratch the surface of this remarkable man," said Tolbert, who first met Schierman three years after he and his partners had founded the squadron. "As a budding pilot, I was both intimidated and in awe of the flying skills displayed by this group."
Tolbert credited Schierman and his fellow Black Jacks with seemingly never turning down an opportunity to honor a departed military member or aviator with a Missing Man formation.
"The collective actions of one's life is the legacy that they leave behind," Tolbert said. "It will be an honor for me to fly at Major Wesley Schierman Field, dedicated to a man who loved family, country and freedom."
Faye Schierman had little to add to Tolbert's remarks, except when she looked up and saw the Black Jacks overhead.
"When you see those airplanes flying, that says it all to me," Faye Schierman said.