Wesley Manor, a senior housing community in Frankfort, recently sponsored an event that brought history and aviation together for ﬁ ve residents who took a flight on a World War II-era patrol plane.
The event was held at the Frankfort/Clinton County Airport honoring U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Adrian Marks, a Frankfort native, who rescued 56 crewmen aboard the USS Indianapolis in 1945.
“I was touched by the emotion that our residents experienced, not only seeing the plane, but getting an opportunity to ride in it,” Wesley Manor Executive Director Brent Waymire said. “Especially for those that are veterans and served our country with dignity, honor, and pride.”
Marks played a pivotal role in rescuing survivors from the USS Indianapolis.
The USS Indianapolis ship was sunk by torpedoes that came from a Japanese submarine shortly after the ship had finished a secret mission delivering atomic bomb components to Tinian. Many of the men who survived the sinking were attacked by sharks in the Philippine Sea. Marks was the first to rescue the men, five days after the ship sank.
The PBY-5A, often referred to as an “amphibian” due to its ability to operate on both water and land, represents an era of aviation history when the versatile planes served multiple roles, from wartime missions to post-war firefighting and private transport.
After the war, Marks returned to Frankfort where he opened a law practice, specializing in real estate titles and deeds. He and his wife, Elta, built a home in the Village of Wesley Manor. Marks passed away at the age of 81 in 1998.
The owner and two pilots of the plane that was brought to the event were provided guest rooms at Wesley Manor, where Marks once lived, and the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce covered the $250 cost for each resident who flew in the plane.
One resident, Larry Price, an Army veteran and pilot, said flying in the PBY gave him a chance to experience what Marks had experienced in the air when he rescued the sailors in the water the day the USS Indianapolis sank.
“Living in Frankfort, a number of years ago, I became aware of the Adrian Marks story and I’ve always had an interest in it,” he said. “I’ve flown in other WWII planes, and it’s always a neat experience.”
Beyond the aviation adventure, the residents said the flight on the PBY bridged the past and present.
“I had the honor of hearing Marks speak one time at one of his presentations,” Army veteran Jack Nussbaum said. “At one of his presentations, Marks handed me a little book that had four speeches in it that he had written, and I’ve always cherished that book. For that reason, I wanted to fly on the plane because of what he did for the sailors he saved.”