If it's a challenge, he shifts into 'pilot attitude'

Chuck Enders

Chuck Enders

April 29, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Chuck Enders will tell you that he "somehow volunteered" to take a leading role in a minuteman statue project to honor past, present and future citizen soldiers at the Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing base outside of Martinsburg.

But truth be told, Enders, who has been defying Earth's gravitational forces by flying airplanes since the age of 15, wears a "pilot attitude" on his sleeve.

"Give me something people say you can't do ..."

And he will prove them wrong.

This challenge, one that Enders estimated will be a $75,000 project when it is completed later this year, needed only be mentioned by his wife, Joy Enders, after she saw a minuteman statue at a Virginia National Guard base in Virginia Beach.

"A good idea can be taken all the way to completion and you can take a good deal of satisfaction in that," Enders said of the project, which got off the ground in May 2004.


"I do enjoy the fact in August we're going to be able to sit back and say we took it all the way to completion," he said.

At 2 p.m. on Aug. 4, Enders and fellow members of The Minuteman Committee, a nonprofit organization formed to undertake the project, are expected to hold the dedication of the monument near the new base entrance off U.S. 11, the 60-year-old retired commercial airline pilot and former 167th Airlift Squadron commander said.

The approximately 6-foot-statue will be mounted on a 3-foot pedestal and a base that will elevate the bronze work of art an additional 4 feet.

Solar-powered lighting will make it visible at night from U.S. 11, Enders said. Benches, landscaping and a history of the project detailed on plaques will complete the monument setting.

Although about 90 percent of the money needed to complete the monument project has been raised, Enders said coming up with the cash was a significant hurdle, made possible only by the generosity of the community.

"I've learned how much the community appreciates the men and women of the Air National Guard," said Enders, who personally designed six medallions as part of an extensive fundraising effort.

Each coin bears the likeness of the planes that were based at the 167th Airlift Wing over the years. The C-5 Galaxy aircraft currently based there is one of the six.

"The effort isn't over when we get it dedicated," said Enders, who intends to help form an endowed organization of volunteers to ensure the monument's upkeep.

Enders credits his wife and the Airlift Wing's Family Program coordinator for initially suggesting the idea.

He said he wants to be remembered only as "a guy who helped" make the statue in honor of the guard members possible.

"I had the privilege of being one of those people," said Enders, who retired from the Air Guard in September 1999, after seven years as commander.


Name: Charles J. "Chuck" Enders III

Hometown: Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Occupation: Retired airline pilot

What was your proudest moment?: Successful completion of an Air National Guard training exercise in 1983.

Whom do you most admire, and why?: Members of the Air National Guard. "These men and women volunteer to give up their time and do what's needed for their state and nation."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who gave it to you?: "Whatever I chose to do in my life, to make sure that I enjoyed it," from his father.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve?: "To start my next (third) career."

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