Mailbag: Orange County should rename John Wayne Airport

John Wayne is pictured in "Rio Lobo," a film from 1970.
John Wayne is pictured in “Rio Lobo,” a film from 1970. Comments he made 50 years ago have been raised as the reason his name should be taken off the airport in Orange County.
(File Photo)

As a longtime resident of Orange County, I remember when Orange County Airport was renamed for John Wayne back in 1979 by a Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors. I opposed it then, not because I was a Democrat, but because John Wayne was an admitted bigot.

While many of us may have our own private prejudices, Wayne was outspoken and unapologetic about his views. Tolerance was not his strong suit. He was an embarrassment to many Orange Countians, who may have appreciated his acting but not his politics.

My preference is to not swing the other way and rename the airport after some liberal icon — or anyone at all. Orange County Airport was fine for me growing up, and it didn’t offend anyone.

Let’s leave politics out of it. However, removing Wayne’s name from the airport is the right thing to do.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

Don’t forget John Wayne’s contributions

John Wayne led the movement to make Orange County home to Vietnamese refugees. He was an ardent supporter of our men and women in uniform. And his family foundation has been a national leader in cancer research.

As an immigrant to our country, I am extremely sensitive to the actions and statements of people who perpetuate and make racist statements. The comments by Wayne from 50 years ago are wrong and sad from someone who so many people across America hold in high regard.

While I have experienced racism firsthand, I do believe that a person should be judged on the totality of their actions and contributions to society, which is why I support keeping the name John Wayne Airport.

Wayne’s contributions to families in Southern California and across America live on to this day. He personally worked to assist Vietnamese refugees resettle in America, many of whom still live here in Orange County.

The John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s investments in research have resulted in groundbreaking treatments and the establishment of a cancer institute in Santa Monica.

Because of his dedication to our military and country, Wayne received both the Naval Heritage Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Michelle Steel

The writer is an Orange County supervisor.

Airport’s name should change with the times

Like “Gone With the Wind,” John Wayne — the icon of western films through much of the 20th century — has passed his expiration date in American culture.

Wayne’s part in forming the mythology of American history — like “Gone With the Wind”— now belongs in film history classes and museums. Certainly not as the moniker for a major Southern California airport.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

Democrats should allow Wayne to RIP

He’s been dead 41 years. But leave it to the Orange County Democrats to engage in more overreaction and victimhood with respect to John Wayne Airport and the statue that greets Orange County visitors.

I wonder if any of us, who may live in glass houses, are worthy to throw stones.

Yes, the Minneapolis tragedy is just that, but, sadly, justified reaction has morphed into overreaction, including the O.C. Dems’ wrongheaded resolution to change the name of our airport and remove the statue.

Let Wayne and his memory rest in peace.

Paul Watkins
Newport Beach

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