Rename Indianapolis International, retired soldiers say

He launched the effort publicly last month at a hearing at the Statehouse before the Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs. Indiana state Sen. Thomas J. Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, the commission's chairman, nodded attentively but later said he planned no action.

"I don't think the state should be mandating to the city what it should call its airport," Wyss said.

In February, Ryan thought he'd won a battle when Gov. Mitch Daniels hung Cook's portrait in his office. During a brief ceremony, Daniels noted Cook was a contemporary of such flight pioneers as Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Orville Wright and Eddie Rickenbacker and was "every bit the legend that any of them was." All four have airports named for them.

But Daniels stopped short of suggesting the Indianapolis airport's name be changed.

"The governor said the airport was named for (Cook) for a long time, which was appropriate, and that now we should honor Cook and his memory in other ways," such as hanging his portrait in the new airport terminal, said Daniels' press secretary, Jane Jankowski.

Cook was a member of Rickenbacker's famous 94th Aero Squadron and later commanded the squadron. He once attacked three enemy planes single-handedly, shooting down one and dispersing the others. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with an oak leaf cluster and the French Croix de Guerre.

But his slide into obscurity has been steady.

In 1993, long after his name came off the airport, a plaque commemorating Cook was removed from the main lobby and hung up in baggage claim.

It's the way of the world, dust to dust, said SerVaas, who is 87, retired from politics and philosophical. To take Indianapolis International back to Weir Cook would be "a step backward," he said.

Several years ago, the large room where Indianapolis' City-County Council holds its meetings was named for SerVaas. He has no illusions it's for keeps.

And so what, he said. "They'll change it, and I won't be alive to care."

The Indianapolis Star is owned by Gannett, parent company of USA TODAY.

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