RF-4C Phantom II Arrives in Meridian, Mississippi for Memorial Park

The East Mississippi Veterans Foundation's RF-4C undergoing reassembly at their memorial park, following the reconnaissance plane's arrival on June 20th. (image via East Mississippi Veterans Foundation)
FAGEN Restorations

The East Mississippi Veterans Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Meridian, Mississippi is establishing the East Mississippi Veterans Memorial Park adjacent to the city’s historic Key Field. It was above this airfield where the flying Key Brothers, Al and Fred, set a flight endurance record of 27 days between June 4 and July 1, 1935!

This Memorial Park will feature McDonnell Douglas RF-4C 67-0438, a Phantom II which served with the local Air National Guard unit, the 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group (now the 186th Air Refuelling Wing), from September 21, 1979 until its retirement on September 9, 1991.

RF-4C 67-0438 during its time with the 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group. (Photo via East Mississippi Veterans Foundation)

The aircraft will be mounted on a pedestal for display. At the time of its acquisition, this Phantom II was one of only three remaining US Air Force RF-4 variants remaining within the Boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

RF-4C 67-0438 at the Boneyard being loaded aboard a truck bound for Meridian, Mississippi in mid-June, 2022. (Image via East Mississippi Veterans Foundation)

On June 6th, 2022, Worldwide Aircraft Recovery loaded the RF-4C Phantom II onto one of their trucks and began the process of its disassembly for the journey to Meridian, Mississippi.

Jeffrey Summerlin, president of the East Mississippi Veterans Foundation, was in Arizona in early June as the aircraft was in the process of being disassembled for shipping back to Meridian. He said it had been a nearly four year process to get the plane home, but after raising the allocated funds and getting through the pandemic, the plane’s journey to Meridian was finally underway.

The disassembly took about a week to complete, with the plane aboard a low-loader headed for Meridian on June 17th. The delivery took place on June 20th.

The aircraft will be the first on display in the East Mississippi Veterans Memorial Park. Ponsford Ltd. will conduct the Phantom’s restoration over the coming months. Once that is completed, landscaping, construction of a sidewalk, and signage will be added around the display. Summerlin said that once the Phantom is displayed, the foundation will then turn its focus to the “Wall of Remembrance” area and the rest of the park.

The East Mississippi Veterans Foundation is leading the effort to build the East Mississippi Veterans Memorial Park in Meridian, Mississippi to bring honor, recognition, and remembrance to those men and women, past and present, from Meridian and East Mississippi who served in our nation’s armed forces. This perpetual memorial is intended to salute the service and sacrifices of all who served as well as their families and friends.

The Foundation will be an integrated neighbor of the community, supporting efforts to stimulate local economic development, strengthen livability and showcase the unique and one-of-a-kind Memorial Park which will increase visitors and tourists to the area.

The group is actively fundraising to complete this Veterans Memorial Park project. For more information and to support this effort, please visit  www.emsvf.org

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