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Unanimous Vote To Dispose of a Piece Naval History, the A-7 Corsair Display Alongside of I-75

The County 5: A Board That Just Has No Respect 

Posted May 16, 2014  11:25 am | news | analysis | (1 Comment)

Displayed for years alongside I-75, The 5 has let the Navy A-7 Corsair fall into disrepair.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night the Columbia County 5, The 5, unanimously voted to contact the Department of Defense for "disposal instructions" for the County's display along I-75 of a Navy A-7 Corsair fighter plane. The 5 have allowed the display to fall into disrepair; the light to go out; and turned the other way as the aircraft became covered in bird excrement.

The only decision The 5 needs to make is just clean it up and give the plane, veterans, and all Americans the respect they deserve.

The 5 did what it usually does, made its decision in the back room and rubber stamped it during its public meeting.

Your reporter, along with other veterans and non veterans alike, were offended by this action of The legendary Columbia County 5. There is not one veteran on the Board.

The County Manager's Presentation

Thirty year County Manager (CM) Dale Williams made his presentation to The 5. He began, "The next item Mr. Chairman, the jet aircraft display that is best seen from I-75 is referred to as a static aircraft display. It is actually on loan from the Department of Defense to Columbia County."

A-7 Corsair on display in Alameda, CA.

"The County assumed responsibility for that display back in the 80s. There is an agreement which accompanies that display that says that in the event the County should ever decide that it no longer desires the aircraft, we have to make notification to the Department of Defense. They in turn will give us instructions as to how to dispose of it. The disposal costs are our responsibility."

CM Williams opined, "That's what we're going to pay for having used it, and benefited, and enjoyed it for these many years."

Columbia County: claims it doesn't have access

County Manager Williams said, "We know that because of a change in ownership we no longer have access to the display: gates are locked; we've been locked out; we can't get in touch with the current owner; we have no legal right to even access the aircraft. The light which had been furnished by the previous land owner at no cost to the County has been turned off or removed. Therefore, there is no night display."

The County Manager continued, "We are recommending this Board give approval to notify the Department of Defense that we have no interest in the air craft at this time and ask them for disposal instructions."

Cheaper to save than destroy?

"What I'm thinking is if they come back with some disposal instructions which are just not cost effective, we may decide we want to stay in the static aircraft display business," he said.

CM Williams concluded, "I'm requesting the Board to allow staff to notify the Department of Defense that we, as the County, no longer have an interest in that display and ask them for disposal instructions."

Columbia County 5The Chair called for the vote

Board Chairman Ronald Williams called for a motion.

Commissioner Scarlet Frisina made the motion.

Commissioner Bucky Nash seconded the motion.

Chairman Williams asked for comments (not from the public) or discussion.

There was complete silence.

Chairman Williams, "All in favor signal by saying aye."

It was unanimous.

The 5 gives the public two minutes

Your reporter, a County resident and veteran, addressed The 5:

I'm totally opposed to turning back the airplane on the side of I-75 to the Department of Defense.

I know a lot of veterans. Maybe that's the problem, there are no veterans on this Board...

What this Board doesn't understand is the sense of pride that veterans feel when they drive down I-75 and look at that fighter plane.

According to this [reference to the DOD estimate], this plane is worth $100,000. But it's not worth $100,000. It's worth the sense of pride in anybody that's a veteran, particularly in the south.

I'm going to tell you something. Back in the early sixties, most of people who were in the armed services were southerners. It was the only place they could get a job and get out of the dirt fields.

I'm requesting that this Board reconsider its motion... and work on keeping it in tip-top shape and getting the light turned on so the people who served their country and the people that think about it can share the same sense of pride that I do. Thank you.

Marine Veteran LJ Johnson came to the microphone. "That does indeed represent pride that us veterans have for our country. It represents our service. Thank you."

Former over-the-road trucker, Ralph Kitchens, told the Board, "I would suggest that the Board consider refurbishing the old aircraft."

Chairman Williams said, "We do know people pay attention to it... All we done tonight was ask for, 'How do we get rid of it.' And if they tell us that it cost too much to get rid of it, then this Board have a decision to make."


After the meeting an audience member thanked your reporter for speaking up about the plane and reminded him it was a Navy plane, although he added, "The Air Force flew them, too."

Another said, "I'm going to get a petition."

The 5 doesn't need to find out how to dispose of the Navy A-7 Corsair, an aircraft that protected America during the height of the Cold War.

The only decision The 5 needs to make is just clean it up and give the plane, veterans, and all Americans the respect they deserve.

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Chairman Ronald Williams;
Commissioners Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina


Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

On May 16, 2014, LJ Johnson of Columbia County wrote:

As a veteran, I am appalled that the Columbia County Government even considered disposing of a part of our heritage and history.  I served in the Marines, Army and Navy.  I served My  Country with Pride.  We the People that have served Our Country have a Great Respect for what we believe in.  Love of Country and Love of Family.

Our service men and women have made many sacrifices:  life, love, and blood.  We have served in times of War and in times of Peace.  We have lost Father's, Mother's, Brother's, Sister's, Uncle's and Aunt's.

The Columbia County Commissioners have decided it is in the best interest of the County to find out from the Department of Defense how to dispose of this military aircraft. I would hope that all Veterans and their families and friends will make a united stand and say HELL NO.

 LJ Johnson, Veteran of our Armed Forces

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


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