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Local scouts enjoy Aviation Night at Russellville Airport

Members of Cub Scout Pack 39 enjoyed an evening at the Russellville Municipal Airport last Tuesday as part of the airport’s annual Aviation Night.

The scouts heard a presentation from Tom McKnight about his cousin Lt. Carroll Napier Langston, a Tuskegee Airman who was killed in action when his P47 aircraft lost air pressure and crashed on June 7, 1944, off the coast of Italy. They also had the opportunity to inspect a Diamond Star aircraft owned by Robbie Tidwell, and airport manager Harry Mattox told the scouts about their local airport.

McKnight, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-68, is a member of American Legion Post 31’s honor guard. McKnight told the scouts about the honor guard and how a military funeral is conducted.

McKnight shared the story of Langston, his cousin, and the long journey involved in transporting his body back to its final resting place at Greenwood Cemetery in Nashville.

Through McKnight’s efforts, Langston was honored with a military ceremony including flag fold, rifle volley and the playing of Taps some 73 years after his death when Post 31 Color Guard and Russellville pastor B.J. Bonner traveled to Nashville on June 10 of this year. He told the scouts how men like Langston fought for their freedom and urged them not to take their education for granted.

“His story can share how veterans put their lives on the line for your future,” McKnight said. “Be appreciative of the educational opportunity you have.”

McKnight presented Mattox with a commemorative poster about Langston and the Tuskegee Airmen as a way of thanking him for his work in promoting the history of the group.

“You have been a tireless advocate promoting the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, and we appreciate your efforts,” McKnight said.

Mattox said Russellville Airport, also known as Bill Pugh Field, handles approximately 3,000 operations each year. With more than 5,000 feet of runway, the airport is designated a Class 2 facility, and that allows corporate aircraft to come into Russellville. Mattox said the annual Aviation Night introduces young people to their local airport.

“This is a chance to give back to the community and let these guys learn what’s happening at our airport in Russellville,” Mattox said.

The scouts asked McKnight a variety of questions ranging from his age (72) to how many people he killed (none) to what type of aircraft he flew (none).

During his tenure in the Air Force, McKnight was part of a team that serviced B52 bombers, but he was never commissioned as a pilot.

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