Southern Heritage Air Foundation hosts annual luncheon

Published 8:25 am Friday, July 23, 2021

Dozens of veterans and guests crossed the Mississippi River on Wednesday to attend the Southern Heritage Air Foundation Museum’s annual luncheon. 

The event serves as a showcase of the museum and its exhibits, and an opportunity for local veterans in Mississippi and Louisiana to socialize and learn about volunteer roles. According to Air Force and Army veteran Paul Fields, who has been involved with SHAF since 2008, the museum plays an important role in the recording of history.

“Our mission is to preserve the history of World War II, in particular, and the aircraft that was used,” Fields said. “We fly ours; the only one we have hanging up is the British Spitfire.”

Fields was the foundation’s first volunteer. 

After taking a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, and pausing some programming, the SAHF Museum is back in full swing. It’s something volunteer Beth Fields said she missed over the last year or so, and something she’s glad to participate in again.

“I always said this was my second home,” she said. “Until this past year, I would spend 25 hours a week here, doing everything from setting up lunches, cooking, giving tours, working with merchandise.”

On any given day, the halls of the SHAF Museum are lined with veterans who volunteer to share their stories of serving in WWII and in Vietnam. Some men, Fields said, were prisoners of war. Others flew over occupied lands and saw combat firsthand. 

Many pieces of memorabilia in the museum were donated by local veterans — or their families after their deaths. While they might not have shared their experiences in life, the items they kept over the years are serving a purpose, Beth said.

Regardless of their experiences, she said, it’s important for the general public to learn from veterans and hear their stories before it’s too late.

“It bothers me that children aren’t taught about this time in history, so everywhere we travel to, we always give people our business card and tell them about the museum,” she said. “We’re very proud of this place, and the people who come here — even little kids on their field trips — they learn something new. We are a place of interest to all ages.”

The Southern Heritage Air Foundation Museum is located at Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport, 175 Vtr Airport Road in Tallulah, La. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday, by appointment. To learn more and to see an event calendar, visit https://southernheritageair.org.