U.S. Rep. Barletta secures U.S. Navy flyover for Funfest parade on Sept. 11

Sep 1, 2011
Press Release

HAZLETON– U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, PA-11, announced that a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet will fly over Downtown Hazleton at the start of the Funfest parade on Sunday, September 11.

“This year’s Funfest theme is ‘Funfest: Celebrating America’s Heroes,’ so it is particularly appropriate that, on the 10th anniversary of September 11, a United States Navy fighter jet will fly over the City of Hazleton. Everyone who attends the parade will have a very visible, very loud reminder of America’s heroes and the sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform have made since that fateful day ten years ago,” Rep. Barletta said.

The flyover, which is scheduled to occur at about 3:10 p.m. – about 10 minutes after the start of the parade – in West Hazleton, will take the F/A-18 Hornet right down Broad Street, from McKenna’s Corners to Hazleton General Hospital.

“On behalf of the entire Funfest Committee, we would like to express our thanks to Congressman Barletta for making the military flyover a reality for our event. Funfest 2011 was already shaping up to be an exciting day with two military bands and a tribute to the heroes of 9/11. The patriotic flavor of this year’s festival will be that much stronger when that jet flies down Broad Street as the Funfest Parade gets underway,” said Judiann McGrogan, Funfest executive director.

“We have been trying, but have not been able to secure a flyover for a quite a few years, so we are very excited that the congressman and his staff have succeeded in this endeavor,” said Earl Berger, past chairman of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce.

Flying over Downtown Hazleton will be U.S. Marine Corps Major Richard M. Rusnok Jr., a native of Pittston and a 1994 graduate of Pittston Area High School. Major Rusnok graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1998 and has achieved a substantial record of distinguished service as a Marine aviator. He was deployed for numerous American military actions, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. Major Rusnok has accumulated more than 1,500 flight hours in over 20 different aircraft, including the AV-8B Harrier II. He was selected for the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) in September 2008 and reported to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Maryland) in December 2008.  He graduated from USNTPS in December 2009 and is currently assigned to VMX-22 as the F-35 Operational Test Liaison Pilot at the Patuxent River F-35 Integrated Test Force. Major Rusnok’s personal decorations include the Air Medal with six Strike/Flight Awards, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device and Gold Star in lieu of second award, and two Sea Service Deployment ribbons. He lives in Lexington Park, Maryland, with his wife, Kara, and their son, Richard.

The Funfest flyover is incorporated into Major Rusnok’s required monthly flight training.

Rep. Barletta thanked the U.S. Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration for their cooperation in securing and arranging the flyover.