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WWII-era warbird event returns to Peru

16 aircraft highlight salute to veterans

A crowd of roughly 10,000 attended the inaugural 2016 TBM Avenger Reunion and Salute to Veterans Airshow at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru. If the weather cooperates, organizers expect another large crowd Saturday, May 19.
A crowd of roughly 10,000 attended the inaugural 2016 TBM Avenger Reunion and Salute to Veterans Airshow at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru. If the weather cooperates, organizers expect another large crowd Saturday, May 19.

For a third year, the city of Peru and TBMReunion.org plan to honor those who have served with a historic and free-to-the-public veteran’s parade and warbird airshow.

The TBM Avenger Reunion / Salute to Veterans is scheduled noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport. Parking and admission is free.

For 2018, a grand march honoring each branch of the military is planned, featuring a motorcycle honor guard and hundreds of American flags. Staging for the parade begins at 11 a.m. The parade will begin with a missing man overflight, weather permitting, to start the show.

The airshow and veteran’s celebration attracted more than 10,000 people in 2016 and despite rain last year brought out more than 4,000 people to salute more than 100 veterans, including witnessing an honor flight given to a 92-year-old TBM Avenger turret gunner who served during World War II.

To support and honor all who serve, and to keep the event free to the public, the Salute to Veterans committee is soliciting contributions to help offset expenses associated with bringing veterans and veteran aircraft together. The Salute to Veterans Committee will also be seeking donations from the public at the event. For more information and to contribute, go to tbmreunion.org

Local business entrepreneur and pilot Brad Deckert will lead a flight of TBM Avengers from the cockpit of his own Avenger as part of the aerial Salute to Veterans. The historic warbird gathering is set to attract as many as 16 authentic TBM Avengers.

Deckert’s restored TBM will be joined by more than 15 other veteran aircraft, as well as several significant WWII-era warbirds, including two F4U-Corsairs, a brace of P-51 Mustangs, a squad of T6s Texans and other combat military aircraft from the Korean and Vietnam eras, including an F-86 Sabre and a MiG-17 duking it out for air “supremacy” over Illinois.

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