JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — College football bowl season is upon us, and no matter the game, many in the Highland Lakes will tune in for a football fix.
If you watch closely Dec. 27, you might recognize one local participant. Not on the field, however.
Cowden Ward Jr. of the Freedom Flyers in Burnet will perform a flyover in his P-51 Mustang, “Pecos Bill,” at the Duck Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The flyover will take place before the Miami Hurricanes and the South Carolina Gamecocks take the field at 2:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ABC.
Ward said representatives from the bowl approached him at an air show in Houston, specifically looking for a P-51 Mustang to honor the Tuskegee Airmen being named the recipient of the 2014 Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award. The Tuskegee Airmen gained their notoriety in the P-51 during World War II.
Sponsored by Duck Commander of “Duck Dynasty” fame, Ward said he’ll meet members of the Robertson family the night before the game and be recognized on the field at halftime.
Ward likes to be the guy behind the scenes; however, he is looking forward to the experience.
“We feel honored,” he said about the Freedom Flyers organization.
Ward and the Freedom Flyers have built a reputation of giving World War II veterans a flight aboard the iconic plane. The bowl flyover will give the organization a national stage, however brief, to expand the Freedom Flyers’ mission.
“This year, we’re going to a lot of air shows, and we’re having to really ask for funds to go,” Ward said. “We want to fly another 100 veterans next year.”
Freedom Flyers’ veteran flights are free, and the organization relies on donations.
To do that, Ward said they will be seeking sponsors to continue providing flights to veterans and more.
Ward said one new project will be Yellow Ribbon Youth Flights.
“It will take us to bases like Fort Hood for a day of flying the kids,” Ward said. “Giving back to the kids and wives left behind.”
Freedom Flyers also provides Angel Flights for people needing lifesaving medical care not available to them because of transportation costs.
As Freedom Flyers grows, Ward said volunteers are needed.
To volunteer, donate or learn more about Freedom Flyers, visit its website at www.freedom-flyers.org.