Harbor Hills will raise the flag and celebrate the Fourth of July with a golf outing and an outstanding all-American cookout. Of course amid the celebrations, Independence Day brings to mind something we seniors know all too well: Freedom is not free.

Neighbor and friend Steve Hritz served in the United States Air Force for thirty years from 1971 to 2002. In the last year of the Vietnam War, Steve flew C-130 Hercules transports out of Clark Air Base in the Philippines. C-130’s dominated airlift operations in Vietnam because of their ability to handle a 15-ton payload and rapidly offload large cargo pallets.

Steve’s other assignments included command of the 375th Flying Training Squadron at Scott Air Force Base. There, pilots were trained in various aircraft including Learjet-support aircraft and aeromedical evacuation aircraft. Steve retired proudly with the rank of colonel.

Friend and patriot John Bircher often reflects on the significance of this exceptional day. His distinguished 30-year military career includes military intelligence officer and Middle East foreign area specialist. John served in Vietnam with Special Forces in 1969-1970 where he was awarded the Purple Heart.

No reference to Harbor Hills’ veterans would be complete without mention of Brig. Gen. Bill Wilcox, USAF. General Wilcox passed away in 2010 at 94 years old. A West Point graduate, his distinguished World War II service included command positions in Europe, North Africa and China. Wilcox flew 75 combat missions and logged more than 4,400 flying hours. His Distinguished Flying Cross was one of many awards and medals.

We remain profoundly grateful to all our veterans past and present, for their service to and sacrifice for our country. Happy Birthday, America!

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