The 121st Air Refueling Wing at the Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base is naming one of its refurbished aircraft in honor of Grove City.

A dedication ceremony for the newly christened "Spirit of Grove City," a KC-135 refueling plane, is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the base near Lockbourne in southern Franklin County.

"This is a huge deal from a patriotic standpoint and it's a compliment for our community, which has always been so supportive of our military," Mayor Ike Stage said.

Stage and other local officials plan to attend the ceremony.

"It's an honor that recognizes our community's history with Rickenbacker back to when it was the Lockbourne Air Force Base," Stage said.

Many airmen from the base would spend off-duty hours in Grove City, visiting a duckpin-bowling center located on Broadway at the current site of Cultivate and dining at local restaurants, he said.

"We've had a lot of airmen from the base live in Grove City over the years," Stage said. "So we did have quite a tie with servicemen in the area."

In recent years, the U.S. Air Force has brought back a practice from the early days of aviation through World War II when pilots put personalized markings on their aircraft, he said.

The 121st is taking actions like naming the plane in honor of Grove City to enhance its bonds with local communities that have supported the base through the decades, Stage said.

The air-refueling wing is naming a number of its planes after other local communities, said Laura Simpson.

Simpson, whose husband is a member of the Air National Guard, helped connect Grove City with the 121st.

The ceremony will be held less than a week after Veterans Day.

"It will be a big week for Grove City, first with our annual Veterans Day service, and then to have this honor," Stage said.

The local Veterans Day Service, hosted by the American Legion Paschall Post 164 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8166, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Grove City Gold Star Families Memorial at the corner of Broadway and Columbus Street.

The public is invited to the service, to be followed by an open house luncheon at noon at the American Legion Hall, 3363 McDowell Road.

Work on the plaza at the Gold Star Families Memorial is about 90 percent complete, Stage said.

When it is completed, the plaza's benches, light fixture and landscaping will complement the memorial, which was installed on Memorial Day 2016.

"It's meant to be a reflective park," Stage said. "The intent is to reflect on the military members from our community who lost their lives in service to our country and the sacrifice their families made."

A dedication ceremony for the plaza is planned for Memorial Day in 2018.

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