O Heavenly Father,
We gather today, to Honor our fallen Hero – Dr. Joe Masessa
We celebrate his life, and remember the devotion to his Duty and Family.
We will forever keep the legacy that he leaves behind, in our hearts.
We have never met our Hero, but his Mission to Honor our Servicemen in Vietnam was Heartfelt and Honorable.
We Honor his life – his service – and his memory.
We know our Hero will find peace and comfort, dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
Rest easy brother, – your Mission is complete.
…you will always be: Never Forgotten – Forever Revered.
Dr. Masessa’s Mission to Honor POW/MIA
A Myrtle Beach pilot is on a mission.
He has a day job as a dermatologist, but he devotes his free time to honoring those who served and to remembering those who never made it home from the Vietnam War.
“The aircraft is very aerobatic. And armored. It’s very hard to shoot this down,” said Dr. Joe Masessa, talking to some onlookers.
Dr. Joe Masessa is used to answering questions about his plane.
“It’s a Grumman, OV-1 Mohawk,” said Masessa. “It’s an absolute joy to fly.”
He spotted one nine years ago at an airshow and bought one of only two for sale at the time.
“I was awed by the aircraft. The funny-looking nose. The large engines. I’ve got to have one of these. It’s an absolute gem,” he said.
His passion for the aircraft is clear.
“When we land, we don’t even need to hit the brakes on the aircraft. We can just put the propellers in reverse, and slow the aircraft down,” he said, showing off the large propellers.
He knows every inch and rivet.
“They were built in the late 50s and were in Vietnam during surveillance and reconnaissance, all through the Vietnam War and all conflicts after that period through the Gulf War in ’91,” said Dr. Masessa.
But overshadowing the 15,000 pound, 2,800 horse power man-made creation…the names.
“I had the 1,636 names painted on the aircraft,” said Masessa.
“There are 1,636 missing in action, unaccounted for, from the Vietnam War. In this day and age, could you imagine that?”
Each one with a story.
“Kenneth Leroy Cunningham. He was lost, I believe in 1968 or 1969,” said Masessa.
A flag is placed each time a missing soldier is identified.
“So many people relate to it because Vietnam involved so many people,” he said.
For Masessa, keeping the plane in working order is not a hobby.
“It’s a mission,” he said.
One he is proud to carry on.
“Our mission is to make sure that no one forgets these people. And to honor them while they’re still around.”
Masessa has flown the OV-1 Mohawk in more than 100 airshows over the last seven years.
Dr. Masessa’s plane went down at the 2019 Stuart Airshow doing what he loved and was dedicated to do. We Honor his legacy.