John Thamm has painted portraits of local veterans. They are hanging at the STA Plaza as part of the Flag Day celebration this Friday. (Dan Pelle)
John Thamm has painted portraits of local veterans. They are hanging at the STA Plaza as part of the Flag Day celebration this Friday. (Dan Pelle)

STA Flag Day event will feature Pearl Harbor survivors

The Stars and Stripes will be flying at the STA Plaza on Friday, as Spokane Transit Authority hosts a special Flag Day event to honor veterans and current military personnel.

“STA has a long history of supporting our troops. We’re very excited to host this event,” said Beth Bousley, director of communications.

As part of STA’s partnership with Holmes Elementary, 500 paper stars decorated by the students will be hung in the staging area.

Special guests will include six Pearl Harbor survivors from the region. They will be accompanied by Carol Edgemon Hipperson, author of “Radioman” and “The Belly Gunner.”

Copies of “Radioman,” a biography of the late Ray Daves, will be available for purchase with all proceeds going to Inland Northwest Honor Flight.

“The Radioman (Ray Daves) himself was one of the first to go on an Honor Flight from this region,” Hipperson said. “I know how much it meant to him to see the World War II memorial. When he spoke about that trip to Washington, D.C., with a plane full of veterans just like him, I saw the tears of gratitude in his eyes.”

In addition to Hipperson, author and artist John Thamm, who has compiled his portraits of local veterans and their stories into a book, will also be featured. His book will be available and Thamm’s portraits will be displayed in the main floor gallery through July 4.

Other speakers include Tony Lamanna, director of Inland Northwest Honor Flight; Joshua Anderson of Veterans Affairs; and Paul Quinnett, clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Retired Col. Steve Blaska, STA’s director of operations, will act as master of ceremonies, and music will be provided by the Mane Event Quartet, a barbershop group, and Pepper, an award-winning quartet with the North by Northwest chapter of Sweet Adelines International.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet the speakers and veterans, tour the Mobile Veterans Resource Van, purchase books and Honor Flight merchandise, and post a message or loved one’s name on the STA Veterans Memorial.

Bousley said STA is proud to support Inland Northwest Honor Flight. “We support their mission to allow vets who wouldn’t be able to travel otherwise to see their memorials,” she said.

Hipperson, a longtime supporter of Honor Flight, said, “All of our war veterans deserve to see the memorials in Washington, D.C., that were built in honor of their service and their sacrifice. It’s best when they go in the company of others who have the same kinds of memories. I have observed how seriously touched and grateful they are whenever we Americans say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ ”


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