OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Every Wednesday at Denny's in Oceanside, you can find a breakfast club like no other. In this Zevely Zone, I had the honor of meeting the Old Bold Pilots Association.
It's a tradition that dates back to the mid-80's. The Old Bold Pilots share breakfast and stories from the past. "Good to see you," said Tommy Head. The retired Air Force combat photographer introduced us to American aviation royalty. "There's old pilots and there's bold pilots, but there's no old bold pilots," said Tommy. "They are just normal people that did extraordinary things."
Heroes like Dave Piontek. He's a pilot who at this breakfast table listens more than he talks. "It's humbling. These guys are the real deal," said Dave.
Pilots like Royce Williams who once shot down four Russian MiGs in 35 minutes. "This is a copy of the nomination for the Medal of Honor," said Mr. Williams who sat next to another legend, Glenn Tierney. Mr. Tierney flew in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. You'd think meeting Neal Armstrong would be his favorite story but instead he told us about two dates with Doris Day. What was she like? "Nice. Ha, ha, ha," laughed Mr. Tierney who is a hero and gentleman.
Nice is how I'd describe everyone pilot we met. How else can you explain eating with the enemy? "I almost felt like, wow," said Klaus Thiele. He was born in Germany and shared a story about the club's two opposing WWII pilots who recently passed away but ate breakfast together for 15 years. "This picture shows Kurt Schulze a German pilot and Jeff Watkins an English pilot. This symbolized to me very much that we don't need any wars," said Klaus.
From the original four fighter pilots, OLD BOLD PILOTS has evolved as it has grown. They now have as many as sixty of more members and guests at their breakfast meetings.
Their current membership represents all the branches of United States military service plus civilian and airline pilots, crew members and aviation enthusiasts.
When Tommy Head returned from Vietnam, he was yelled at by protesters but not here. "These guys, yeah, I can tell them what I did and where we went and they understand," said Tommy.
And so, it's been, for nearly forty years; eggs, bacon, pilots, and patriotism.
If you'd like to meet the Old Bold Pilots and thank them for their service, you can find them at the Denny's on El Camino Real Boulevard in Oceanside every Wednesday at 8 am.
To learn more about their organization click here.
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