Back to: Education
November 13, 2017 05:15 PM

Retired Air Force Colonel Has Special Message for Elementary Students

If you've seen Top Gun, you'll remember some pretty cool air tricks are a part of the movie. An Air Force veteran visiting Sioux Falls says he has basically lived that. Retired Air Force Colonel Philip Edelen is telling local students about his career flying F-111 fighter jets. There's an even more important message Edelen wants to spread here on the ground. 

Flying high is a part of Edelen's history. 

"Ever since I was a little kid. I wanted to fly like my dad," Edelen said. 

Watching his dad fly in World War II is part of the story he's sharing with students at Robert Frost Elementary School. Eventually, Edelen attended the Air Force's Fighter Weapons School.

"It's our Top Gun. It is the best of the best. You're selected to go there, and it was. You can't be shy about your abilities," Edelen said.

Speaking at schools is not about elevating his own ego. The colonel's mission is to encourage these kids to lift up veterans in their community. 

"Just to tell thank you to a veteran means so much to that veteran and I want to convey that to them," Edelen said. 

Edelen got choked up while talking about this. In passing, it would appear he had tears in his eyes. If you look closer, you would see they are actually the pride that has been welling up inside of him ever since he swore to protect his country.

"When I put on the uniform today, I retired ten years ago, today is the first day I wore the uniform since my retirement. It gives me goosebumps because the pride I feel in wearing the uniform and the service to my country," Edelen said. 

"I thought it was incredible because veterans are very important because they have served our country," nine-year-old Saphera Reid said. 

Reid says she may even want to enlist someday. 

"You get to serve for your country.  You get to be nice to people and you're kind of helping people by serving," Reid said. 

No offense to flying, but hearing that and seeing these kids appreciate our veterans is the greatest high this pilot has ever felt. 

"It's with great pride I do and it's an honor to do this, I feel," Edelen said. 

As part of Veterans Day, we asked viewers to share pictures of veterans in their life.  Review the photos sent to us below.

© 2017 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

  • Elementary
  • Education
  • Sioux Falls, SD


We Welcome discussion on KELOLAND News stories but will delete any comments that contain swearing or make threats against others.


Click here for full weather details!