Kentucky Marines Honor Local Air Force Officer for Central Role in Recognizing Centennial of Marine Aviation during 2012 "Thunder Over Louisville" Air Show on Ohio River

Centennial of Marine Aviation 2012


Louisville, Kentucky; May 18, 2012: In grateful appreciation for the spectacular recognition of the Centennial of Marine Aviation during the 2012 Thunder Over Louisville" air show, viewed by an estimated 405,000 people lining the Indiana and Kentucky banks of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky, the primary force behind same was honored by the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK) during the Armed Forces Day Dinner sponsored annually by the Louisville Armed Forces Committee (LAFC).

On July 27, 2011, the MCCCK was approached by Capt James J. "Josh" Ketterer, USAF (C-130 Pilot), assigned to the Kentucky Air National Guard (KYANG), with his own idea that the KYANG honor the Centennial of Marine Aviation by dedicating the 2012 "Thunder Over Louisville" air show and fireworks display to the Marine Corps. His concept was to showcase all current Marine Corps aircraft (with the exception of the Osprey), as well as selected World War II aircraft during a special segment thereof commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway. Throughout the process, Capt Ketterer worked diligently and effectively to develop the theme. His enthusiastic pursuit of aviation participants for this tribute, coupled with his impressive knowledge of multiple aircraft specifications, capabilities, locations, and historical background, were crucial to the success of "Thunder Over Louisville," on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

Capt Ketterer's  respect and admiration for Marine Aviation, as well as his extensive knowledge of the pivotal role played by Marine Aviation during the Pacific Campaign of World War II, motivated him and others throughout the planning and execution phases of this magnificent tribute, which was designated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps as an official event commemorating the Centennial of Marine Aviation, to which he dispatched MajGen Jon M. Davis, USMC, Commanding General, 2nd Marine Air Wing, as his personal representative.

Although the MCCCK played a vital support role in the planning and execution of the "Thunder Over Louisville" air show, it was Capt Ketterer alone, who personally brought forth the concept, marshaled community support, secured the necessary aircraft, and provided the contagious enthusiasm, through which the KYANG and the Louisville Metro area honored the Corps. In recognition of his central role in this community-wide event, Capt Ketterer was presented with an MCCCK plaque in a formal ceremony during which he was publicly lauded as follows:

Since 1992, the opening event of the Kentucky Derby Festival, known to all of us as "Thunder Over Louisville," has combined a spectacular air show with a world class fireworks display. This past month was no exception, as the Kentucky Air National Guard honored the United States Marine Corps on the 100th anniversary of its aviation component. Featured during the air show segment of "Thunder Over Louisville" were multiple current Marine Corps aircraft, as well as several historic "war birds," commemorating the pivotal World War II naval Battle of Midway, in which Marine aviators played such a significant role.

None of this would have been possible without the insight, enthusiasm, knowledge and tenacity of a young Air Force officer, who conceived, planned and executed this memorable tribute. Tonight, as we gather to observe Armed Forces Day, it is most appropriate that the Marine Corps community in Kentucky, represented by Mr. Houston Mills, Jr, President of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky, who is himself, a former Marine Corps aviator, respectfully acknowledges and publicly recognizes the contributions of J. Josh Ketterer, Captain, U.S. Air Force, Kentucky Air National Guard, with a Marine Corps plaque inscribed: "In Grateful Appreciation - Thunder Over Louisville - 2012 - Kentucky Marines."

In addition to this local recognition, Capt J. Josh Ketterer was presented with an official Letter of Appreciation and a classic personalized challenge coin from a fellow aviator, James F. Amos, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps.

(Photograph (L to R): MajGen Edward W. Tonini, USAF, Adjutant General of Kentucky; LtGen Harry M. Wyatt III, USAF, Director, Air National Guard; Capt J.Josh Ketterer, USAF, Kentucky Air National Guard; Mr. Houston Mills, Jr, President, MCCCK; and Col Steven P. Bullard, USAF, Chairman, LAFC. Courtesy of Chuck Bauman, LAFC Photographer)