The Edwards Air Force Base air show sometimes draws a quarter million people to the East Kern County base. But with the pandemic lockdown, the base is closed to the public, so the air show came to the people.
Jet engines roared overhead on Friday as the air force showcased iconic military planes in a flyover show, and Bakersfield residents watched in amazement from the ground. This event holds a deep significance for veterans in the crowd.
“I did four years in the Marines, then I did four years here in the National Guard. Just to be a veteran, it means a lot to me. I cherish it every day,” said Mark Murillo, a veteran of the Marine Corps and National Guard. “
The air force says over a dozen aircraft flew overhead, including F-16 fighter jets and a B-52 bomber. These plans hold memories for many veterans, who watched these planes save the lives of their comrades in combat.
“One of our guys Gilbert Martinez, he was a POW. He was held for four years,” said George Garcia, an army veteran who served during the Vietnam War. “The B-52’s came and they did carpet bombing– and the VC and the NVA left. Gilbert crawled out of there and a combat medic– not me but one like me– saved him.”
The air show made many veterans proud to wear the uniform. Garcia endured disrespect when he returned from Vietnam, causing him to hang up his uniform for years.
“For many years I didn’t want to claim that I had served in Vietnam, but it’s changed,” he said. “This is very emotional for me. These people are very patriotic and very respectful.”
This flyover is the first of its kind in over a decade. The air force is using the event to teach young students about science and technology, offering lessons in aerospace physics to go along with the show.