SPOKANE INT'L AIRPORT -- The Spokane Air Traffic Control Tower has a new name as of Friday.
Members of the U.S. Navy, Congress, and the Federal Aviation Administration were all gathered there for a special occasion, to honor a Spokane man whose life and career has inspired so many people.
Tom Torvick works for the Airway Transportation Systems. He says he read the book “Radioman” written by local author Carol Hipperson. When he got to the end of the book and saw the man was from Spokane, he thought to himself, “Wow, I walked in this man’s footsteps.” The man he is referring to is Ray Daves.
The book chronicles Ray Daves naval career including the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, where Daves suddenly found himself helping others fire on the enemy planes in the sky. Daves told KREM 2 News, “Well, I didn’t pull any triggers, I just gave ‘m ammo.”
Daves would later serve on a submarine, then on to the aircraft carrier Yorkdown which was lost in the famous Battle of Midway, a battle that helped turn the tide on the Pacific front.
KREM 2’s Randy Shaw first met the Purple Heart recipient when he traveled with him on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. where Daves saw for the first time the World War II Memorial. Daves told Shaw seeing the memorial brought tears to his eyes.
And his humble nature only now reluctantly accepts the idea of naming the Spokane Air Traffic Control Tower after him. Daves says, “I guess that will be OK but I never heard of ‘em naming a federal building after a common ordinary citizen.” That is true and Daves is now the first.
He spent 27 years as an air traffic controller until he retired in 1973. Torvick spearheaded the effort to get the tower named after Daves and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers pushed through a bill in less than four months to get the job done. She presented Daves the framed bill from the 111th Congress and signed by the President of the United States. Torvick says, “I think the people back in D.C. had heard Ray is up in his years, let’s not waste any time with this. Let’s get it done and do the right thing and that’s what happened.”
And with four generations of his own family present, that is what happened; the Ray Daves Air Traffic Control Tower was born. Daves told Randy Shaw, “More than I ever anticipated, Randy, it's just beyond me, it’s like winning an Oscar, you know, it really is.”