Supervisor Thomas F. Riley said Wednesday that he is absolutely opposed to the renaming of John Wayne Airport as a local pilot has suggested in a petition presented to the county Board of Supervisors.
"I just don't see a legitimate reason to make a change" in the name of the airport, Riley said.
It was Riley who proposed naming the airport after Wayne, the late cowboy actor and Newport Beach resident. Riley, whose district includes the airport, said he talked about the idea with Wayne shortly before he died in 1979.
"Many of my young Marines used to think that John Wayne was something special, he made you feel patriotic and he looked like a hero," said the supervisor, a retired Marine Corps general.
The name change was proposed by Lars de Jounge, a pilot from Corona del Mar, in a letter to the supervisors that included a petition with about 80 signatures. He said Wayne's name would be more appropriate for the county's beaches, rather than the airport.
And he said that Orange County needs more attention from other areas of the country and that therefore the airport should include the county's name.