Last month country music star Aaron Tippin brought along a special guest for his performance at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) benefit in New Orleans.
It was Larry Kelly’s beautifully restored World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber, named “Panchito,” which traveled by air and water to reach Spanish Plaza for the benefit.
B-25s are famous for their role in bringing hope back to the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and successes throughout the Pacific. Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle chose B-25s to raid Tokyo in 1942. “Doolittle’s Raid” was a success, thanks in large part to the 16 Mitchell bombers used to carry it out.
Tippin, who is a licensed pilot, helped fly “Panchito” from Oshkosh to New Orleans. Then, equipped with what he calls his “Working Man’s PhD,” helped to load the plane aboard a barge on Lake Pontchartrain that floated the bomber across the lake to Spanish Plaza, where it was put on display for the DAV benefit show.
“It was a great pleasure to be part of the team that brought ‘Panchito’ … to the city of New Orleans,” he said. “Man…it was hot!”
After the airplane’s flight and voyage were over, Tippin performed some of his hit songs for the DAV benefit, including “Where the Stars and Stripes and The Eagle Flies,” an appropriate song for “Panchito” and her mission, Tippin pointed out.
The DAV organization was honored to have Tippin on hand for the voyage, said Arthur H. Wilson, national adjutant and CEO. “Aaron is a long time advocate of our service members and veterans and his participation in getting ‘Panchito’ here is greatly appreciated,” he stated. “His music has long evoked patriotism and promoted the American way.”
The entire trek was filmed by Sleeping Dog Productions for the DAV. A televised documentary is being planned for later this year.
Aaron Tippin earned notice on the music scene 16 years ago with “You’ve Got to Stand for Something (or you’ll fall for anything),” a solid workingman’s anthem that quickly established him as a spokesman for the American people. Between 1990 and 1997, he had seven more hit records. With his success and ability to relate to the people, he traveled to Saudi Arabia with Bob Hope in the early ’90s to become the first singer to entertain the troops during the Gulf War and, since, has entertained troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.