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Byron Park Salutes an Aviation Legend


          (Walnut Creek, CA) – November 6, 2015 – Kisco Senior Living’s Byron Park Community is proudly saluting an aviation legend this Veteran’s Day. U.S. Navy American Fighter Ace Commander Dean “Diz” Laird spent 30 years in service to our country, and is the only known U.S. Navy ace to shoot down both German and Japanese planes during World War II.

“We are proud to honor our courageous veterans on such an important day,” said Byron Park Executive Director Renee Hamilton. “We have been privileged to have many veteran residents over the years, and Mr. Laird is an ideal example of those men and women our country should be recognizing.”

Byron Park Community proudly salutes aviation legend on Veteran's Day. A native of California, Laird grew up outside of Sacramento, CA and at an early age had an interest in aviation. “I used to watch planes flying over my house and always thought it would be cool to be a pilot,” said Laird.

After spending hours of his childhood reading flying magazines like ‘Flying Aces’ and ‘Air War’, and earning his private pilot’s license while attending Placer Jr. College in Auburn, California, Laird would see his future unfold in front of him in late 1941.

“I joined the Navy in 1941, just 12 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor,” said Laird. “After witnessing that horrific day, I knew that we were going to war and that I wanted to defend my country doing what I love.”

Once deployed, Laird flew 175 combat and training missions; served on 12 different carriers; flew in the Navy’s first jet squadron in 1947 and was the first person to land a jet powered aircraft aboard the USS Midway. By the end of World War II, Laird was also one of the first carrier based aviators to bomb mainland Japan.

By the time the orders came down for Laird to return home, he was one of the few who protested. “I wanted to stay out there,” said Laird. “Even my commanding officer thought I was crazy, but I enjoyed the challenges of combat. I couldn’t wait to find someone to mix it up with. In fact, I was probably a little too overconfident – thinking that I was the greatest fighter pilot in the world.”

Laird’s accomplishments continued after WWII, including his first win in a 1949 National Air Race, after setting an airspeed record of 549 mph, earning the rank of Commander during the Korean War and serving in a ferry squadron during the Vietnam War.

Following his dedicated years of service, the now 94-year-old American Combat Hall of Fame’s ‘quintessential fighter pilot’ has been recognized with the presentation of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 3 Gold Stars, as well as two Presidential Unit Citations. This former resident of Coronado, CA, for 57 years, will also be honored with a banner on the Avenue of Heroes, located on Third and Fourth Streets during the city’s Veterans Day Celebration on Saturday, November 7.

To find out more about this heroic Navy veteran or to set up a time for an interview with this Byron Park resident contact Ellen Richardson at or call (336) 217-4270. For more information about Kisco Senior Living’s Byron Park community, visit or call 925-937-1700 to schedule a visit.


About Kisco Senior Living:
Kisco Senior Living communities offer independent lifestyle options for seniors, as well as licensed assisted living and memory care in some locations. Family-owned Kisco Senior Living, based in Carlsbad California, owns and operates 21 senior living communities in six states. With an award-winning approach to senior lifestyles and wellness, Kisco creates communities where residents and associates share passions, live and work in balance and build a legacy. Kisco is an International Council of Active Aging (ICAA) member and is an ICAA Champion Organization, recognition that is part of ICAA's Changing the Way We Age® campaign to shift the way society perceives aging. For 25 years, Kisco's guiding principles of integrity, dignity and compassion have balanced the interests of residents, associates and business partners. Visit for more on the company.