Salute to Veterans Air Show ending 31-year run

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COLUMBIA - The Salute to Veterans Air Show won't return to Columbia after 31 years of Memorial Day Celebrations.

The Salute to Veterans Organization announced the cancelation on Wednesday, citing the unavailability of the Columbia Regional and Jefferson City Airports.

Spokeswoman Jessica Houston explained the organization's decision to end the tradition.

"It is with a heavy heart we have to inform those who have supported our mission that the Salute to Veterans Air Show will not pursue another venue, nor does it have plans to continue in the future. We can say with confidence and pleasure that we completed thirty years of our mission with commitment, strength, and honor," Houston said.

Salute to Veterans had 3,000 volunteers and 100 committee chairpeople who organized the parade and air show. Robert Ross is a retired marine who volunteered and enjoyed the Memorial Day Weekend celebration.

"Since I've been in Columbia it's been a main stay and it's been an important part of recognizing the services of veterans and military," Ross said.

He said he understands the challenges the organization would face with putting on the event in May.

"They determined that there were no more resources available at the level they'd like. I think they've done a good service and it takes a great deal of resources to put on something like an air show," Ross said.

Other members of the community are disappointed about the cancelation. The University of Missouri's Air Force ROTC Detachment Commander, Karim Abdulkhalik, said the event was a great opportunity for cadets.

"They liked the fact that they were making a difference in the community. I think that is something that would be missed," Abdulkhalik said.

Army Cadet, Gregory Schroeter, performed with the University of Missouri joint drill team at the air show for two years. He said the cancelation of the event is a loss.

"I'm disappointed for the cadets because it was a very useful event for ROTC, especially Air Force, to see pilots, talk to people that are actually in, and get that face-to-face interaction," Schroeter said.

Although the Memorial Day celebrations are over, he said he hopes Columbia continues to honor those who served.

"I hope the community just realizes this was an event for them, it was an honor of veterans, and comes up with any idea of another way to salute veterans," Schroeter said.