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Richard L. West Terminal Building
January 12, 2002

Terminal Building (10020 bytes)On Saturday, January 12, 2002, a ceremony dedicated the airport terminal as the "Richard L. West Terminal Building." Dick West is a legendary fighter ace from the Pacific Theater during World War II, where he shot down 14 confirmed Japanese aircraft. West was also credited with three "probable" victories over Japanese aircraft, making him the first ace of the 35th Fighter Squadron. West went on to become a "double ace" and was only one shoot-down shy of becoming a "triple ace." West also authored a book of poetry now in its third printing.

Dedication Ceremony (A C-T Photo) (11446 bytes)Airport board member, Fred Simmer, referred to West's 175 combat missions and the fact that, amazingly, West encountered enemy aircraft on only eight of those 175 missions. All told, West was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest award in the military - the only award higher than the Distinguished Service Cross is the Congressional Medal of Honor), the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, eight air medals, and two presidential citations.

Missouri Senator David Klindt and Rep. John Quinn also spoke at the ceremony. U.S. Army Col. George Seek was also present, representing Maj. Gen. John Clarke, the commander of the U.S. Army's 5th Army, based in San Antonio, Texas. Our airport (6083 bytes)

West's daughter, Lynda West, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., gave a speech in honor of her father. "Chillicothe was always in my father's heart, whether he was in the South Pacific in an airplane fighting a war, working here, or living out his golden years. I remember asking him as a young child why we lived in Chillicothe. His answer was 'One day after a rough battle, I promised God that if I survived the war, I would come back and never leave again, I knew then this is where I belonged.' If I didn't understand his answer then, I certainly do today. Dad, you've always been my hero. Today, you are everyone's hero."

The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 944 of Chillicothe made West an honorary lifetime member of the chapter. West's wife, Norma,Richard L. West (11877 bytes) thanked the 200 people who attended and thanked the speechmakers. West was presented with a plaque inscribed with the same words that are on the bronze plaque at the entrance to the airport terminal building. The framed replica plaque given to West was donated by Lauhoff Jewelry and the Chillicothe Elks Lodge. Dick grew up on a farm near Chula, Missouri. He was called the "Samson of the Pacific" because he vowed that he would not get his hair cut until he shot down his first Japanese aircraft. He is truly a member of the greatest generation.

Special thanks to the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune for the story and two photos.

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