Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast To Feature Acclaimed Fighter Pilot

OCEAN CITY – The Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will return to Ocean City next month.

On Friday, Jan. 7, the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce will host its 2022 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

For roughly 30 years, the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast has served as an uplifting event where community members – including residents, elected officials, church congregations, local police and fire departments, the business community, educators and nonprofit organizers – can come together for an inspiring message.

This year’s event will feature keynote speaker Brian Shul, a veteran fighter pilot turned author and photographer.

“I’m very excited for him to come …,” said Heather LaFollette, events manager for the chamber of commerce. “He has a very uplifting story about fighting and not giving up. I think it will do well for the Prayer Breakfast and after everything we’ve gone through the last two years.”

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During his 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Shul flew 212 close air support missions in Vietnam before his aircraft was shot down. Severely burned with little chance of survival, he spent a year in hospitals and endured 15 reconstructive surgeries before returning to flying jets.

His biography reads, “He flew the A-7D, and was in the very first A-10 squadron, becoming an airshow demonstration pilot. Brian also taught at the Air Force’s TOPGUN School and culminated his Air Force career with selection to fly the world’s premier spy plane, the SR-71. This was a remarkable accomplishment considering that it required an astronaut physical to qualify for the plane that routinely flew above 95% of the earth’s atmosphere. Only 89 Air Force pilots in history ever flew the SR-71, still the fastest plane ever built. Brian flew the Blackbird for 4 years and was the pilot who provided key photos of Libyan terrorist camps to President Reagan during the Libyan Crisis in 1986 when he became the only SR-71 pilot ever to fly three missions in three consecutive days.”

Shul retired from the Air Force in 1990 and began pursing his interests in writing and photography. He was the first SR-71 pilot to write a book about the plane, earning him the Aviation Book of the Year honors from the Smithsonian.

Shul then went on to write three other aviation books, for which he did all the flying, writing and photography. He is also the only man in America to have flown extensively with both the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels in the making of those books.

“Brian’s remarkable comeback story has inspired audiences nationwide as today he has become one of America’s most popular keynote speakers,” his biography reads. “He is a recipient of the National Spirit of Freedom Award, the prestigious Silver Eagle Award, and recently was inducted into the Air Force Legends Hall of Fame. Brian is the owner of Gallery One in Marysville, California where his nationally acclaimed nature photography is on display.”

LaFollette noted that tickets for the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast are available for purchase on the chamber’s website, chamber.oceancity.org. Day-of registration will be held from 7-7:45 a.m., and the buffet breakfast – provided by Centerplate – begins at 8 a.m.

“It’s a long-time event that’s been held here in Ocean City, and everyone looks forward to it,” she said. “We had to put the Prayer Breakfast on hold last year, but after 2020 and 2021 we are looking for a return to normalcy.”

LaFollette added that the chamber will continue to follow protocols for social distancing. For additional information on the Prayer Breakfast, or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Heather LaFollette at heather@oceancity.org or call 410-213-0144, ext. 133.

“This is an opportunity to be around other people while being socially distanced and hear a really good message,” she said. “My hope is it will help to ring in 2022 and lots of wonderful new things.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.