Bleckley Day brought the community together for a moment of pride and sacrifice.
“I never dreamed that people would be remembering him, 100 years later,” said Nancy Erwin, the niece of Erwin Bleckley.
On Saturday, Wichita celebrated history while creating tradition. On October 6, 1918, Erwin Bleckley lost his life while trying to save others. Lieutenant Bleckley was on an mission to find American Troops and as he was flying above in his DH-4 aircraft, he found them.
“He had supplies to drop but wanted to make sure they got them to the troops on the ground so he flew lower,” said keynote speaker, Doug Jacobs.
As Lt. Bleckley dropped supplies to his fellow soldiers, German’s gunned him down with their rifles and machine guns.
“That kind of commitment is what makes individuals in our country stand out,” said Representative Ron Estes. “His words are clear, he had a higher mission; he was going to put the support of his troops ahead of himself.”
Congressman Estes, city council member Pete Meitzner and other notably members of this community all took to the podium Saturday to express gratitude to Lt. Bleckley’s remaining family. KSN spoke with a few family members who say, this is a day they never thought would come.
“They did something for him shortly after he died,” said Erwin. “I was surprised at the number of people who came but to have so many people here 100 years later, it means a lot to the family.”
Lieutenant Bleckley’s name was added to a monument in front of Robert J. Dole VA Center where it will remain as part of Wichita’s history.