The Red, White, and Blue Hero Celebration on July 20 will recognize retired Lt. Col. William I. McCowen for his nearly two decades of service as a United States Air Force pilot.

Born in 1926, he set records in the U.S. Air Force by flying 697 "official" combat missions, something no one has ever done. A veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, McCowen successfully fought in these three different wars facing many near death situations. He carried Moscow as his nuclear target throughout the Cold War. He is a true hero and someone who didn't leave that title on the battlefield.

After retirement, he created an international electronics company and a manufacturing group that supplied Walmart and Disney with goods, and now he is part of a group working on an alternate energy source. His efforts have brought hundreds of jobs to the local area over the past five decades, along with international recognition for the Panhandle.

He founded three Time Saver Automotive Oil and Lube Centers beginning in 1982 in Fort Walton, Shalimar, Destin — still in operation.

Local war heroes will be joining HarborWalk Village in this special ceremony at 7 p.m. to honor McCowen’s achievements and service to our country. These include:

1) Rich Adams - West Point graduate and noted author

2) Westy Westenbarger - Lt. Col and Crispy Warriors leader

3) John Beard - WWII Bomber Pilot Lt. Col

4) Lt. Col. Samuel Lomardo, Battle of the Bulge veteran

The patriotic salute begins with a WWII T-6 Texan flyover and airshow, an official presentation of the colors, singing of the National Anthem and a celebration ceremony recognizing local heroes. Culminating the event are stunning fireworks over the Destin harbor followed by an exciting fire spinning show.