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Wednesday, 2 December, 2009 3:13 AM

New plaque unveiled at Detroit Metro Airport honors past heroes

Photo credit: Wayne County Airport Authority

The new plaque is revealed during a special ceremony inside Detroit Metro Airport's North Terminal on Nov. 24, 2009.

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

ROMULUS, Mich. -- In a corner of the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s North Terminal, a small crowd gathered for the unveiling of a plaque that commemorated important figures in the airport’s history.

Wayne County Airport Authority's Chief Executive Officer Lester Robinson presided over the event, which honored three Metro Airport pioneers: Leroy C. Smith, James M. Davey, and Michael Berry, the latter of whom was in attendance and even provided a brief address despite interruptions from the overhead intercom. “My loss and your fortune,” Berry joked after being muffled out.

In a reference to the accomplishments of the three men, Robinson recalled a quote from former U.S. President Harry S. Truman: “Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Smith and Davey, as mentioned by Robinson, were major influences in the evolution of the Willow Run area as a commercial airlines center. It was Berry, he added, who managed to advance the purposes airport through his work as part of the Road Commission and the addition of an international terminal.

The unifying aspect that unites the three men is the usage of their names to signify three terminals now decommissioned that once stood on the premises of the current ones. “The fact that they built the metro airport skyline will last forever,” said Robinson.

The plaque reads: "In 2005, the North Terminal Redevelopment Project at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport set out to design a contemporary air transportation facility built upon the rich legacy of Metro Detroit’s many transportation innovators. Today, this terminal sits on the site of three former passenger terminals each named for an individual whose commitment and dedication remains at the foundation of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.”

The North Terminal, which opened in Sept. 2008, stands on the site of the former Davey Terminal, which was replaced by the McNamara Terminal in 2002 as Northwest Airlines’ largest hub facility. The Davey Terminal was commissioned in 1966 and named for the late former DTW airport manager James M. Davey, who was instrumental in moving commercial airline service to the airport at the dawn of the “jet age.”

Demolition of the Davey Terminal began in 2005 as the first stage of developing the new North Terminal, which now serves the airlines previously housed in former L.C. Smith and Berry terminals. The Smith Terminal, commissioned in 1958, was named for the late Leroy C. Smith, former Manager and Engineer with Wayne County Road Commission, who was instrumental in the establishment of Detroit Metro Airport.

In 1974, the Berry Terminal was added to accommodate the growing number of international flights to and from DTW, and was named for Wayne County Road Commission Chairman Michael Berry, who expanded DTW as it became one of the busiest and most important airports in the world.

Also in attendance to address the crowd was Congressman John D. Dingell and Wayne County Chief Executive Robert Ficano.

For more information on Detroit Metro Airport, visit www.metroairport.com.

 

Photo credit: Wayne County Airport Authority

A large crowd was on hand for the special ceremony.

 

Photo credit: Wayne County Airport Authority

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Congressman John Dingell and Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Lester Robinson.

 

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