PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific (MAMP) held a gala benefit dinner Dec. 6 featuring space and war heroes, along with vintage aircraft and Pearl Harbor movie memorabilia.
Held on the eve of the 61st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the evening fundraiser took place in Hangar 37 on Ford Island. The area is the proposed site of the Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific (MAMP).
Hawaii war hero and MAMP honorary board member Senator Daniel Inouye was on hand to salute military aviation.
"This event is expected to raise $200,000. It kicks off our $46 million campaign to raise the funds needed to build an exciting new museum on Ford Island," said Clint Churchill, president of the MAMP board of directors. "The new museum will tell the rich history of U.S. military aviation in the Pacific."
The museum will focus on U.S. military aviation history from 1913 through the present day, including focuses on World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict and post-Vietnam. MAMP has proposed to convert Hangars 37, 54 and 79 into an aviation museum and historic site, which is slated to open Dec. 7, 2005.
"The Dec. 6 benefit dinner is more than just a fundraising event," noted Allan Palmer, MAMP executive director and CEO. "The event raises awareness for the development of what will become one of the most important visitor attractions in the Pacific."
The keynote speaker was Walter M. Schirra, the only astronaut to fly in all three manned space programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) and the first person to take photos in outer space. War hero Lt. John Finn, the oldest living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, was also recognized with a special tribute.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machine gun at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also on hand was comedian Bill Dana, best known for his role on the '50s television sitcom "The Steve Allen Show."
Outside Hangar 37, vintage military aircraft and WWII vehicles were on display. Included were various military vehicles like an Aeronica, a L-19 Bird Dog, a Stearman, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and other current generation military helicopters.
Memorabilia from Disney's 2001 blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" was also on display inside Hangar 37. Items included anti-aircraft weapons, a P-40 Warhawk fuselage used by actor Ben Affleck in the movie, a World War II conference table and Pearl Harbor bomb replicas. In addition, an artist rendering and construction plan of the new aviation museum was displayed.
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