Sentry Eagle 2022 roars over Klamath Basin after 5-year hiatus

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Sentry Eagle 2022 started with a roar as four F-15 Eagles winged their way over the crowded flightline, punctuating a live rendition of the National Anthem and kicking off a day of aerial demonstrations, food and festivities.

“Once every couple of years, we open the doors and allow all of our community to come in here and see what Kingsley Field provides to our community,” said Col. Lee Bouma, who assumed command of the wing just over a month ago.

On Saturday, June 25, the show began with a small aerobatic bi-plane demonstration, followed by vintage World War II fighter aircraft and the A-10 Demonstration team rounded out the show with an aerobatics display that only the Warthog is capable of.

Katie Terrell, a young girl from Arkansas who came with her parents, said she like the small bi-plane demonstration at least in part because it was piloted by a woman.

“I’m kind of thinking about joining the Air Force,” she said with a smile.

“The F-15 is my favorite,” Katie’s younger sister Laney said. “They are so loud!”

This year’s event is unique in several ways, it’s the first year the A-10 Demo Team has performed and it also featured a very special presentation from a family member of Lt. David R. Kingsley, the Medal of Honor recipient who the base is named for.

Frankie Stoneham, Kingsley’s great, great niece, presented his Purple Heart Ribbon and citation to the base from the main stage.

“I am honored to be here today, and to share my blood with a hero,” she said as a descendant of Kingsley, “This is a true honor and a blessing to be able to present the 173rd Fighter Wing with Lt. David R. Kingsley’s Purple Heart.”

Col. Lee Bouma, the wing commander, accepted the historic item on behalf of the base, saying, “Words just really cannot do justice to signify how important this is.”

He went on to thank her and her family for donating a significant piece of Kingsley’s legacy to the base.

The crowd watched this presentation while a fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the very same type of aircraft Kingsley served on as bombadier, flew low passes behind the stage.

For those who crewed these aircraft during WWII, returning home was often against the odds with up to 70-percent of aircraft being shot down by enemy fire. This was true for Kingsley’s aircraft when it was heavily damaged and subsequently crashed. During that crash he sacrificed his life, taking his own parachute off and placing it on a wounded man, thus condemning himself to a fiery crash near Ploiesti, Bulgaria.

Following that presentation the aerial demonstrators again took to the sky and so did a BMX bike show featuring aerials using ramps. Between acts people could buy food and drinks or drink water provided free-of-charge on the 90-degree day.

Crowds for Sentry Eagle historically fall between 8,000 to as high as12,000 and this year security forces defenders who safely ushered the community through the gate estimated it was higher than usual, surpassing the previous high.

“Sentry Eagle 2022 was a resounding success for Kingsley Field and our community,” said Bouma. “It was well attended and we appreciate the opportunity to give back to our community.”