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McChord Air Museum wins AMC award

62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Published: 12:37PM June 20th, 2013
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U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman

Richard King blocks the exhaust of a SA-10 Catalina to help waterproof the engines, May 18, 2010, at JBLM. King is a retired AF master sergeant.

The men and women volunteers of the McChord Air Museum were recently selected as recipients of the Air Mobility Command’s Heritage Award for their restoration of a SA-10 Catalina aircraft.

The award recognizes outstanding achievements by Air Force museum personnel who have helped preserve and promote the history and heritage of the Air Force.

“I’m excited to have won the award and to know that the outstanding work of our volunteers has been recognized,” said Ray Jordan, McChord Air Museum curator. “Without their hard work and dedication, our SA-10 wouldn’t be what it is today.”

For more than 25 years, volunteers from the McChord Air Museum worked to restore the SA-10. The SA-10, also known as the PBY, crashed in Wisconsin in 1983. It was delivered to the museum here in December 1987 and completed November 2012. The restored aircraft represents a SA-10 from the 4th Air Rescue Squadron that was assigned to McChord in 1948 to 1950 and had helped provide critical search and rescue capabilities during World War II.

“We decided if it was going to get done, we’ve got to do it,” said Jim Bermethy, who’s been a McChord Air Museum volunteer since 2007.

The restoration of the aircraft took more than 30,000 man-hours to complete. Volunteers had to repair, remanufacture and refabricate nearly every section of the aircraft. An additional 400 hours of research went into ensuring every aspect of the aircraft was authentically restored.

Parts from five different aircraft were involved in putting this plane together, said Bermethy. It was probably the most work we’ve ever had to do to restore an aircraft.

The McChord Air Museum has only one paid staff member and is mostly comprised of retired military veterans that volunteer daily. These volunteers work more than 9,500 hours each year supporting various projects. There are more than 15 volunteers today, many of whom range between 80 and 90 years old.

“We don’t do this for the money,” Bermethy said. “We do it because we have a love and passion for restoring these planes.”

The SA-10 is one of 15 aircraft at Heritage Hill Air Park that members have helped restore and display at JBLM, representing the history of the different aircraft that have been stationed at McChord.

“These members take a lot of pride in helping to maintain and accurately showcase each aircraft as a piece of history,” Jordan said. “Every aircraft in the air park is a part of McChord’s history and lineage.”

To view this aircraft or for more information visit www.McChordAirMuseum.org.