LUBBOCK, Texas – The National WWII Glider Pilots Committee kicked off their 50th annual reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Silent Wings Museum.

From Thursday through Saturday night, those registered and in attendance will be seeing presentations, having dinner, going on tours, and just enjoying each other’s company.

“The reason we’re here is to honor the past glider pilots that never made it back or have passed on since then. And there’s very few left,” Gary Stripling said. Stripling is the chair of the organization, and at the end of this year’s reunion, two very special honors will be given.

1st Lieutenant Fred Lunde, who is 100, and Major Frank T. Brandon who is 102, will both receive the Order Of William Orange Lanyard. They’ll receive that award Saturday evening at the museum.

Lunde explained, “The glider pilots were not recognized at the start. And today, they are. And I think it’s a great honor to receive this award.” He said the honor is given to all glider pilots that participated in the liberation of Holland.

After high school, Lt. Lunde spent then years of war in combat. He served in World War II and the Korean War. He finished serving, and a several career changes late, he ended up working as a chief accountant in Livonia, Michigan. He has called it home ever since, but he traveled to West Texas this week to take part in the celebration and receive his honor.

Mary Roemer, the chair of the reunion, said “We plan on having it every year going forward. The 51st, 52nd, God willing, even more. So that’s why we’re here because Lubbock also was a location where 6,000 glider pilots trained.”

Multiple cadets who are also instructor pilots from the 94th training squadron are in attendance this year, and they continue to show that the future is bright for these glider pilots.

Stripling added, “these are powerful, powerful, compelling stories. And each one that’s presented this weekend by mostly children or grandchildren of a glider pilot; they’re tear jerkers I mean, they’re really powerful.”