Thunderbirds to honor Hobart fire chief at show

July 4, 2012 5:20:55 AM PDT
The South Shore Air Show begins on Friday in Gary, Indiana, and one of the highlights will be the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

On Tuesday, the Thunderbirds provided a special honor for the man named the air show's hometown hero.

The Thunderbirds arrived at the Gary airport for the Air Show and the pilots were greeted and given a key to the city by the mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson.

"This is important because it brings people to our city and it allows people to see the positive side of Gary," said Freeman-Wilson.

"[I am] very excited for us to be here; very thankful for our men and women that are out there serving on the combat lines now," said Captain Ryan Riley of the Thunderbirds.

In addition to the show, the Thunderbirds honor a hero from a hometown. This year they will be honoring the fire chief of Hobart, Indiana, Brian Taylor, who saved a young boy from a burning building.

Last year, Taylor ran into a burning home and rescued 3-year-old Andrew Collins. Collins's younger brother, Landon, was saved by another firefighter. The boy's mother died in the fire. They now live with their grandmother.

Taylor took flight with the Thunderbirds on a practice flight at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I feel blessed and very fortunate to be able to do something like this," said Taylor.

Taylor developed a bond with the 3-year-old, and the family is excited to see their hero honored.

"He deserves it, he went in that house. He didn't even have all of his equipment on or nothing. It is wonderful," said grandmother Maria Jones.

"The family has been gracious enough to allow him to be a part of my life forever," said Taylor.

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