Rockford AirFest 2011 to honor two U.S. Navy Rear Admirals Illinois natives have 60 years of service between them

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Rockford AirFest 2011 will honor two U.S. Navy Rear Admirals, the third-highest rank in the Navy, as the AirFest Honorary Chairmen.

Rear Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, a DeKalb native, and Rear Adm. William K. Lescher, a Highland Park native, have each served for approximately three decades. As AirFest Honorary Chairmen, they will be personally recognized at the show, June 4 and 5 at Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD).

Rockford AirFest 2011’s theme is “Honoring Heroes” because the show is part of the yearlong celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation. Rockford AirFest 2011 is scheduled to feature 15 military and civilian performers, headlined by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and including a variety of Naval aircraft on static display.

“Our AirFest Honorary Chairmen have dedicated their lives to serving our country, and we are humbled to feature such high-ranking and distinguished Navy leaders,” said Bharat Puri, acting chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board of commissioners. “Rear Adm. Grosklags and Rear Adm. Lescher exemplify the excellence of our nation’s military.”

Rear Adm. Grosklags is vice commander of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, Md. NAVAIR’s mission is to provide full life-cycle support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by Sailors an Marines, including research and design, acquisition and training and repair and modification. Grosklags graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and has more than 5,000 military flight hours in numerous types of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

Rear Adm. Lescher is deputy director for resources and acquisition for the U.S. Joint Staff, the Pentagon-based staff that assists the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in accomplishing his responsibilities for: the unified strategic direction of the combatant forces; their operation under unified command; and for their integration into an efficient team of land, naval, and air forces. Lescher graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980.  Rear Adm. Lescher has commanded multiple helicopter squadrons in combat in Iraq, Serbia and elsewhere, and flew a record 30,000 hours over two years in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Rockford AirFest 2011 has been designated a Tier One show in the celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation, which has given us a boost in attracting top Navy aircraft this year. But we are also welcoming some top Navy personnel as well,” said Darrin Golden, Greater Rockford Airport Authority commissioner and a former Naval Aircrewman. “To have not one, but two Rear Admirals at an air show is a rare honor. We intend to give them and the tens of thousands in attendance an amazing and patriotic celebration.”

Besides the two Rear Admirals, numerous other area Heroes will be honored at Rockford AirFest 2011. Residents have nominated around 30 Heroes - members of the U.S. military, veterans and other community servants. Heroes that are selected by Rockford AirFest 2011 will get free access to the show, and 20 of them are being recognized online at

To nominate your own Hero, visit by May 21.

Advance tickets for Rockford AirFest are available at the discounted rate of $10 for adults and $5 for children online and at select outlets. For more information, visit

But as in past years, all current members of the military and veterans get into AirFest for free, even if they are not nominated as Heroes. To get your free admission, visit the box office on the day of the show and present a copy of your military ID or your DD214 discharge orders and a photo ID.