Date: April 1971
Magazine: Cherry Diamond
There is hope now in deepest Africa and in the densest jungles of the Amazon. The hope is there because a tightly-knit and completely dedicated core of St. Louis businessmen, mostly MAC members, have brought it there.
Wings of Hope, a private medical assistance project, is first and foremost a mission of brotherhood. That is the way it was conceived by its founders, Joseph G. Fabick, John C. Versnel, D.D.S., and William D. Edwards, in 1965. It is exclusively air oriented because it seeks to get the mercy of medicine into areas inaccessible by any other means than air.
Listen to Padre Guy Gervais, Canadian missionary pilot tell of a typical episode in Peru:
“From Pantoa I received an emergency call from a pregnant mother 350 miles from Iquitos where I am based. I flew the woman, her husband and five-year-old daughter to the hospital. I paid the ten dollars for her entry fee. Things had to move fast. The mother gave birth to twins …”
Then there was the native bitten by a deadly bushmaster snake in the Amazon jungle who was snatched from the jungle and, in less than an hour, was being treated by a well-staffed hospital. The Wings of Hope plane did what a river boat would have taken more than two days to do.
Padre Gervais, a big, rugged looking man, who is a seasoned jungle pilot, could tell endless stories about his work but he leaves that to Joe Fabick, Jack Versnel, Bill Edwards, and the others who have become apostles of the movement.
Mr. Edwards is particularly vocal around the Missouri Athletic Club, where he is an insatiate volleyball player in the evening league. He expounds about Wings of Hope to any ear that may be receptive. As a result numerous names have been added to the cause, MAC names like Ralph Petersen, Al Porteous, Dick Vorhof, Russ Hart, Jack Reese, Hal McNamara, Howard Behan, Ted Liebig, John F. Geisse, Tom Kletzker, Leo Cremins Jr., Bill Holland, Bruce Connors, Jerome Switzer, Clement Burns, Ed Jones Jr., J.W. Brady, Gerald Bishop, Alfred A. Nall, Don Woerner, Fred Nall, Don Barnes Jr. , Henry Lowenhaupt, Dan Layton Jr., Henry Mohrman and Dick Fitzgibbon Jr.
John C. Mosby III, a flying enthusiast is all wrapped up in Wings of Hope as vice president and the following other members are members of the advisory board: Stan Musial, Ed Macauley, Oliver Parks and James O.
One name will never be forgotten as long as Wings of Hope lives. The name is already memorialized in the air service which flies the Amazon.
The name is Thomas J. McCarthy Jr., who died at the prime of his life in 1967 after leading a successful fund drive to provide the first Wings of Hope aircraft for the Amazon. His name lives on in a continuing fund drive for the Tom McCarthy Memorial Air Service.
“Wings of Hope is not proud,” Mr. Edwards says, “our hand is out for almost anything that is suitable. If it doesn’t fit the terrain, we will sell it and use the money to buy something we can use.”
Non-denominational, non-profit and privately-supported Wings of Hope’s driving force is that it is “a humanitarian service in generous support of brotherhood which will accomplish more good for the U.S.A. and the cause of justice than can be managed by government programs.”
Truly, “Brotherhood spreads on Wings of Hope.”
#1: At the send-off of the first airplane to Africa in 1965 were, from left, Oliver L. Parks, Joseph G. Fabick, Paul J. Rodgers, the late Thomas J. McCarthy Jr., James O. Holton Jr. and David W. Kratz. The “Flying Grandfather,” Max Conrad, flew the Cessna 206 to Nairobi for Wings of Hope.
#2: John C. Mosby III of the MAC greets Max Conrad in upper photo. Below, Dr. John C. Versnel, Rev. A. Louis Bedard, William D. Edwards and Mr. Fabick are seen with first Amazon plane. In MAC scene Padre Gervais describes landing to Richard Vorhof, Mr. Edwards, Jack Reese and Ralph Petersen.
#3: French Canadian Padre Gervais gesticulates.