CLEVELAND - “We miss him now. I mean what we could have learned from the man.”
The voice of John Petric Jr. wavered as he paused to talk to about his father. Surrounded by the sound of soaring planes on the last day of the Cleveland National Air Show.
"My father was their first assigned pilot when the Golden Knights started in 1958, 1959," said Petric. "He was the first guy, when they gave the keys to the plane and said go for it Captain Petric."
The U.S. Army Golden Knights passed the baton to the widow of Petric Sr. in a ceremony Monday.
Chief Warrant Officer Four Felicia Marlow, a pilot for the Golden Knights, said it's important the sacrifice of Gold Star families is always remembered. Marlow added the tribute is even more personal knowing they are giving this honor in memory of one of their own.
"Not only did he fly helicopters, but he was the first active duty pilot for the Golden Knights," said CW4 Marlow. "So it kind of is really heartfelt to know we are helping out or reaching out to someone that was part of our team."
Petric said he was four when his father a Vietnam War veteran was killed.
"It's been 50 years since my father was killed in action for this great country," Petric said. "He was born here, he was raised here and to see the Golden Knights back here in his hometown, it kind of brings everything back full circle."