The annual McPherson Veteran's Day observance was held Tuesday morning at the Park Department building in McPherson. The invocation was given by Pastor Tim Leaf, Trinity Lutheran Church. Other activities included the National Anthem by the McPherson High School Band, Amazing Grace played by Lonny Liljegren, God Bless the USA sung by Nick Gosnell, a Rifle Salute by VFW Post #2715 and Taps played by Mark Casebeer.
The keynote speaker was Colonel Hal Hoxie, USAF, Retired. Colonel Hoxie was a combat pilot during Desert Storm. Currently, he is President of Central Christian College of Kansas in McPherson. Colonel Hoxie told several flying stories from his days piloting F-15s in Desert Storm. The most dramatic of those stories was the final one. where Colonel Hoxie was attempting to engage on a mission in Iraq. He was ultimately not permitted to fire on the planes he was pursuing, but had jettisoned his addtional external fuel tanks in an effort to catch his prey.
As he turned for home, he realized he did not have enough fuel to get back to base, or even to a safe area where a tanker could refuel him. So, as he put it on Tuesday, "I had eight minutes of fuel left in my airplane. I had made a lot of mistakes trying to be a hero, and I had run an F-15 out of gas. I was 300 miles, forty minutes from the nearest gas station. I was in a lot of trouble. I rolled out, I started heading for home and I started looking in my checklist for where I was going to bail out and how I was going to escape and evade. And, a tanker driver showed up."
Hoxie refueled the aircraft and made it safely back, and then he went to find out who the tanker driver was that took the chance of being that close to the area of engagement to refuel him. As Hoxie put it, "Somebody was well into the danger zone to help me."
However, Hoxie was unable to find out who the tanker driver was. In fact there were no tankers scheduled to be there and the AWACS radar folks said that there was no tanker there at that time.
Hoxie said, "The callsign was Mobile 65. I looked on the air tasking order, there's no Mobile 65. So, I'm quizzing these guys, alright, so you've got secret...super secret missions, what's the deal? Is there another secret spot you guys keep tankers, what's going on?"
Hoxie added, "To this day, I cannot find, the guys or gals, whoever they were, that drove Mobile 65 and gave me gas. So, the Lord had to bail me out that day, I can't figure out any other thing.I guess the point there is, I only get the chance to come here and continue the legacy because, when I was stupid, Somebody helped me out."