Woonsocket, East Prov­i­dence pi­lots to be hon­ored by R.I. Avi­a­tion Hall

Lu­dovici, D’Amico re­ceive post­hu­mous recog­ni­tion Nov. 17

Woonsocket Call - - BLACKSTONE VALLEY -

PROV­I­DENCE — The Rhode Is­land Avi­a­tion Hall of Fame will in­duct four new mem­bers and rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tions of five other in­di­vid­u­als at their 16th an­nual cer­e­mony and din­ner to be held at the Scot­tish Rite Ma­sonic Cen­ter in Cranston on Satur­day evening, Nov. 17.

Ad­mi­ral Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957) head­lines the list of hon­orees. Byrd, re­tired early from the Navy in 1916 be­cause of an an­kle in­jury, was as­signed to be the In­spec­tor-In­struc­tor of the RI Naval Mili­tia in 1916. He su­per­vised the Mili­tia’s ac­qui­si­tion of its first sea­plane, and helped usher this state into mil­i­tary avi­a­tion. He then be­came the Mili­tia’s last com­man­der, serv­ing in that ca­pac­ity un­til the Mili­tia was fed­er­al­ized on April 6, 1917. He even­tu­ally earned his wings at Pen­sacola and went on to his spec­tac­u­lar ca­reer as a po­lar ex­plorer and pi­o­neer avi­a­tor. He will re­ceive Spe­cial Recog­ni­tion ac­co­lades.

This year’s Galkin Award, named for the Hall of Fame’s most gen­er­ous bene­fac­tors, goes to Prov­i­dence in­ductee John J. Kap­stein, a highly dec­o­rated World War II at­tack bomber pilot who be­came a force in East-West busi­ness, en­ter­tain­ment, and cul­tural trade dur­ing the depths of the Cold War. The award, first given in 2017, is named af­ter War­ren and Robert Galkin, and is given to an in­di­vid­ual whose con­tri­bu­tion to avi­a­tion in­cludes an ad­vance­ment of the field, be it though tech­nol­ogy, de­sign, im­ple­men­ta­tion, ex­plo­ration, bold ini­tia­tive and/or risk-tak­ing.

The R.I. Avi­a­tion Hall of Fame will also ac­knowl­edge the sac­ri­fice of Air Force Colonel Fredric Moore Mel­lor, Rhode Is­land’s 1965 MIA whose re­mains were so re­cently re­turned home.

Ev­ery­one is wel­come and en­cour­aged to at­tend. Tick­ets cost $60 each and can be ob­tained by email­ing ri­a­hof@aol.com, or log­ging in to our web­site at www. ri­a­hof.org. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, please call 401-3981000 or 401-831-8696.

Hon­orees are se­lected by an ad hoc com­mit­tee repre- sent­ing a num­ber of avi­a­tion groups. The com­mit­tee in­cludes all pre­vi­ous in­ductees, such as Robert Cran­dall, for­mer chair­man of Amer­i­can Air­lines; Jen­nifer Mur­ray, the first woman to fly a he­li­copter around the world; and Apollo 8 As­tro­naut Bill An­ders.

Among the in­ductees is CW5 Joseph S. Lu­dovici, U.S. Army (Ret.) (19382017). He was eight months old when he was taken on his first air­plane ride; he soloed on his 16th birth­day, af­ter his sopho­more year at Woonsocket High School. Joseph was a life­long pilot, both as a civil­ian and as a mem­ber of the R.I. Army Na­tional Guard (19551997).

From 1985 to 1997 he served as an in­struc­tor pilot for the Guard, from which he re­tired as Chief War­rant Of­fi­cer 5. In 1969, he took over as owner/pres­i­dent of Sky­lanes, Inc, a fixed base op­er­a­tion at North Cen­tral Air­port started by his fa­ther Sab­bie, a 2004 hon­oree of the R.I. Avi­a­tion Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion awarded him the cov­eted Wright Broth­ers’ “Mas­ter Pilot” Award. Two years later the Avi­a­tion Safety Group of Mas­sachusetts pre­sented him with their Life­time Achieve­ment Award, and in 2008 he re­ceived Aero Club of New Eng­land’s Rhode Is­land Award. In ad­di­tion to his var­i­ous ser­vice awards and com­men­da­tions, Joe earned the Hu­man­i­tar­ian Ser­vice Medal when he was ac­ti­vated to sup­port re­lief ef­forts dur­ing the in­fa­mous “Bliz­zard of 1978”. In Joe’s life­time, he logged well in ex­cess of 20,000 flight hours, in­clud­ing more than 12,500 in air­planes and more than 7,500 in he­li­copters. Most of these hours were spent in­struct­ing the more than 5,000 stu­dents Joe taught to fly.

Among the spe­cial recog­ni­tion hon­orees is Henry D’Amico (1921-2009), He was born and raised in East Prov­i­dence, to Ital­ian im­mi­grant par­ents. A grad­u­ate of East Prov­i­dence High School, he was a WWII fighter pilot who flew 75 com­bat mis­sions over Europe in his P-47 Thun­der­bolt, af­fec­tion­ately named Li’l-Rhody. As part of the 9th Air Force, 1st Lieu­tenant D’Amico flew es­cort flights, dive bomb­ing and straf­ing mis­sions, and close sup­port for ground troops. His squadron was the first unit to pro­vide air sup­port for the D-Day oper­a­tions in the In­va­sion of Nor­mandy, dur­ing which he flew cover over Cher­bourg. He was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross, EAME The­ater Medal with 4 Bronze Stars for Air Of­fen­sive (Europe, Nor­mandy, North­ern France, and Ger­many cam- paigns), and the Air Medal with twelve Oak Leaf Clus­ters.

He mar­ried his sweet­heart and at­tended the Univer­sity of Florida on the G.I. Bill, where he re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture.

He went on to have a very suc­cess­ful ca­reer, raised four chil­dren with his wife Jean, and spent sum­mers in Rhode Is­land vis­it­ing fam­ily.

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