Dedication Saturday for Whitlock Field
by W. Winston Skinner
Whitlock Field at Newnan-Coweta Airport will be officially dedicated Saturday.
The field was renamed in October in honor of Capt. Nicholas S. Schade Whitlock, a Newnan native who lost his life in Africa in February 2012. The dedication ceremonies will start at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s gathering at the airport – just south of Interstate 85 and north of Moreland on U.S. Highway 29/27A – will be “a dedication the community is welcome to attend,” said Patricia Palmer, public information officer for Coweta County.
“We definitely want the community to know about it.”
Parking at the airport is limited, and Palmer said attendees will be directed to parking areas. Transportation from remote parking locations to the site of the ceremonies will be provided.
The Newnan-Coweta County Airport was renamed on Oct. 24 as Newnan-Coweta County Airport, Whitlock Field by members of the Newnan-Coweta County Airport Authority. The authority made its decision partly in response to a Sept. 21 letter from then Coweta County Commission Chairman Rodney Brooks.
Brooks had written the airport authority encouraging the name change and stating the new name would be “a small effort not only to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by Captain Whitlock and his family but also to recognize all those who learned to fly here and died too young.”
Palmer said Saturday’s ceremonies will be “the official dedication of” the renaming by the airport authority.
“The family will be there,” Palmer said. “There will be some representatives from the Air Force.”
The ceremonies are expected to last about an hour. Refreshments will be served afterward.
In October, authority member Ronnie D. Jones said he supported the change and said the new name would honor not just Nicholas Whitlock, but other members of the Whitlock family who have made substantial contributions to Coweta County.
Authority members agreed new signage would be erected to reflect the name change and a plaque honoring Nicholas Whitlock would be placed at the entrance to the airport’s terminal facility.
Whitlock, 29, died Feb. 18, 2012, when he and three comrades lost their lives in an accident near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. A graduate of Newnan High, Mercer University and the University of Florida, Whitlock was serving on his fifth deployment, and the accident occurred while the aircraft was returning from a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Whitlock’s funeral at First Baptist Church of Newnan – where several generations of his family have been active – included remarks by Dr. Gene Tyre, the former pastor, urging the community to memorialize Whitlock.
“Our Nick gave his life for all of us who love freedom,” Tyre told the overflowing congregation. Tyre urged the hundreds present “to make sure that something very special is done in this community to ensure that the memory of Capt. Whitlock will live forever among us.”