BROOKSVILLE - When Jack Waldron and Lucy Basta heard the Aviation Authority was planning to install a B-17 model plane in the Brooksville- Tampa Bay Regional Airport, they knew they wanted to help.
Waldron and Basta are planning a patriotic evening of entertainment, modeled after a USO show. Money raised by the event will go toward the purchase of display cases for the airport, which will feature memorabilia and military artifacts.
"There will be song, dance, comedy and military stuff as well," Basta said. "We want to honor every veteran who has ever served, not just World War II."
The patriotic show, called "Stand Tall Together," will be held 7-9 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Brooksville Elks Lodge, 14494 Cortez Blvd.
Instead of Bob Hope, local social studies teacher Jason Yungmann will serve as emcee. An Elvis impersonator is on board, and Waldron and Basta are looking for local talent to audition for the event.
The Elks lodge seats 700, and Waldron and Basta are hoping to do fill them all.
The inspiration for the effort stems from a family connection, unknown when Waldron first moved to Hernando County. Waldron said his stepfather was one of a 10-man B-17 crew during World War II. Only three men survived after their plane was shot down over Europe, and Waldron's stepfather spent more than a year as a German prisoner of war.
Waldron said he found his stepfather's diary after his death, which spoke about aviation training in Florida.
"It was a stunning revelation," Waldron said, adding he's nearly certain his stepfather trained in Hernando County since it was the "biggest place to train" at the time.
As for the November show, Waldron and Basta want to "involve as many people as we can" to make them aware of local veterans and their sacrifices.
The organizers are inviting quality Hernando County talent - not necessarily professionals - to audition for the show.
Waldron and Basta said Register Chevrolet and CenterState Bank have already signed on as sponsors. More information on the B-17 project is available by calling (352) 597-1113 or by email at j.j.waldron@tampabay .rr.com.