By J. Patrick Pepper
DEARBORN — Hundreds of Korean war veterans and their families will descend upon the Korean War Veterans Living Memorial Site on the front lawn of the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center on Monday for a remembrance ceremony.
The event coincides with the 56th anniversary of the armistice signing between North Korean and United Nations forces that brought an end to three years of bloodshed. And along with honoring the 26 Dearborn men who died fighting, this year a plaque will be presented on behalf of local Veterans of Foreign Wars members to the Arab American National Museum to honor the heroics of one Lebanese fighter pilot.
Lt. Col. James Jabara was the first Jet Ace in U.S. Air Force history, shooting down 15 MiG fighter planes over North Korea. He is believed to be the second-highest scoring (killing) American pilot in the war. Jabara also saw duty in World War II and was killed in a car accident along with his daughter while en route to a new assignment in Vietnam.
Other honors he has been granted in the years since his death include the Col. James Jabara Airport named after him in his home town of Wichita, Kan., and an Air Force Academy award for the graduate who demonstrates superior performance in fields involved with aerospace vehicles.
The gesture was conceived as a way for the veterans to reach out to the city’s largest minority population and recognize the contributions Arab-Americans made in the war, presenter John Ruselowski said.
“We’re always looking for ways we can teach, inspire and uplift young people, and we thought, ‘This is perfect.’ Jabara is a name that is well known around Dearborn, and he is known nationally by servicemen and -women,” Ruselowski said.
The plaque will be enshrined in the “Making an Impact” section of the museum, along with a resolution by Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. recognizing Jabara’s heroics.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday and will be followed by a light breakfast at Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 75, 3800 Greenfield Road. The public is welcome to attend.
By J. Patrick Pepper