By John N. Bailey
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
A little more than a month ago we assembled here and dedicated this port to the future use of aerial transportation.
For that event and in order to make the ceremony more interesting and impressive, the government, through the influence of Senator McMaster, sent three Army pursuit fliers here to take part in the dedication exercises. The names of those three were: Lt. Johnson, Lt. Rhudy and Lt. Winefordner. They were all introduced to you by the chairman and they proved to be not only most skillful fliers but most interesting, intelligent, manly men and during their sojourn here made many fast and enduring friends.
At that time, in the dedicatory address I stated that "the direct cost of the building of this port was borne by the Lemmon Chamber of Commerce": but our cost—our part in the progress for aerial transportation has been meager indeed. The real cost, in a larger sense, has been borne by those men who gave of their brain power, their time and their fortunes, and by those heroes of the sky who gave their lives in order that we might reap by the loss of their lives.
How little did we dream then, that within the hour another should have become one of those heroes of the sky to whom I then made reference.
Today we are met here again, not in the spirit in which we met then, but in a spirit of love and sympathy to supplement that dedication and to further reverently and solemnly dedicate this port to the memory of one of those three valiant young men who here gave his life: who here made the supreme sacrifice to aerial science.
The sadness of that hour is only equaled by the solemnity of this. Although he only visited us a few hours we grew, even in that short time to admire him for his valiant spirit, to love him for his manliness. Just before taking off for Selfridge Field he told us that he had sent a postal-card home to his folks down in Ohio advising them that he was coming home within a few days. He told us how anxious he was to get home. He spoke proudly of his folks; lovingly of his mother. There his true character asserted itself. Show me a man who, even when he is receiving the congratulations of an admiring crowd, is thinking and speaking of his home and mother and I will show you a man who has real character—who is a living example of what a man should be.
Then he took off—something went wrong—there was a crash: a sickening thud and Lt. John A. Winefordner and his plane lay prostrate on the ground almost at our feet.
Then started the long journey to his home and mother, not by airplane but in a flag-draped casket—another hero of the sky who had made his last landing.
He had not lived in vain. His last expression of love for home and mother should be a lesson; an incentive to us who still have our parental homes; still have our dear mothers waiting there; to be thoughtful of them; to visit or write them often. To those of us who have lost dear mothers and dads; to think of them reverently and often and thank God that we had them so long. If we do this our character, like that of John A. Winefordner will become more noble—our life more useful—our death more lamentable.
To his sorrowing folks and to his mother at home we extend our love and sympathy. None outside his home regrets his loss more than do we here.
Now, in honor, and in memory of him who gave his life here, we name this "Winefordner Field."