Maybe it’s understandable why a nice guy from Kansas, who has a batch of really interesting collectibles, might go postal after being saluted by a president of the United States.
Daron Clinesmith is a postman in El Dorado, Kan. Nothing unusual about that. But years ago, before he retired from the United States Air Force, Daron spent three-and-a-half years helping protect the most famous airplane in the world: Air Force One.
Daron joined the Air Force in the early 1980s and was immediately assigned to Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California, near Ronald Reagan’s Western White House at Rancho del Cielo.
During his tour of duty with Air Force One, Daron got to know President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. And he found time to put together a collection of Air Force One memorabilia, everything from matchbooks and playing cards to candy jars filled with the president’s famous jelly beans, models of Air Force One and a framed photograph of Air Force One signed by every president from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
But Daron’s most treasured collectible is a photo taken at the U.S. Air Force base in Bitburg, Germany, on May 5, 1985. President and Mrs. Reagan were stepping onto the tarmac to greet German Chancellor Helmut Kohl when they spotted Daron at the foot of the ramp. In uniform, Daron instinctively saluted the president. Reagan flashed his famous smile and returned Daron’s salute. As it happened (and of course nothing happens by accident), one of Daron’s Air Force buddies, who was standing nearby, captured the moment on film.
Now a photograph of that presidential salute hangs in the cabin of the replica Air Force One that is on display at the American Presidential Experience in Denver, which is being co-sponsored by WorthPoint. Daron takes time off from his current civilian job whenever the American Presidential Experience goes on tour and relives his days on Air Force One.
Daron on the Air Force One replica
Daron eventually retired from the Air Force and returned to his hometown in Kansas where he went to work delivering mail for the United States Postal Service. But that moment in Bitburg, Germany, almost a quarter century ago, provided Daron with his own very special American Presidential Experience.
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