Palm Springs Air Museum Gala Honors 10 Vietnam Vets

Auction adds to museum's education programs

(From left) Capt. Ronald E. McKeown, U.S. Navy Retired; Lauree McKeown; Kathy Ensch, and Capt. Jack Ensch, U.S. Navy Retired.

Photo by Pat Krause


The theme of the Palm Springs Air Museum’s annual fundraising Gala was “Honoring The Brave.”

Ten highly decorated Vietnam veterans were honored (one in memoriam) at the event held Feb. 7 at Palm Springs Air Museum.

The Raise The Paddle Auction that added $249,000 to the museum’s education programs included a matching $100,000 from the Berger Foundation, $50,000 from Fred Noble and $25,000 from Harold Matzner. Honoree Maj. Gen. Ken Miles pledged $250,000 for a new museum hangar.

Other veteran honorees present were Brig. Gen. Robert L. Cardenas USAF (Ret.), Capt. Jack Ensch USN (Ret.), Col. Joe M. Jackson USAF (Ret.), Col. Gordon Jenkins, USAF (Ret.), Col. Tom Kirk (USAF) Ret,), Capt. Ronald E. McKeown USN (Ret.), and Test Pilot Robert J. Gilliland. CDR Wayne Connell was recognized in memoriam.

The 400 attendees enjoyed hosted cocktails and appetizers, dinner, and dancing to Wayne Foster Music and Entertainment.

Speakers included Managing Director Fred Bell, Board Chairman Dan Gilbertson, and Chairman Emeritus Fred Noble. Lisa Bell chaired the evening.

The mission of the Palm Springs Air Museum, just named one of the best aviation museums in the world by CNN, is to “Preserve and fly the unique aircraft of World War II, educate future generations by teaching the history of World War II, and honor the veterans who have protected our democracy.”

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