WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Some WWII veterans are getting the chance to fly again. A non-profit organization teamed up with a local senior living community to take members of “the greatest generation” back to familiar heights.
They celebrated Operation September Freedom (OSF) Monday at Stearman Field in Benton. Regent Vibrant Independent Living says this is the fourth year its residents have participated in OSF. Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation operates the Dream Flights. This year, it is focusing on WWII veterans.
“We’re going to be going to 300 cities in the next two months with seven different Stearman biplanes,” John Cyrier, Dream Flights pilot, said. “Our goal is to fly over 1,000 World War II veterans these two months.”
Of the four veterans going on Monday’s flights, Jack Grable was the youngest at 95. The oldest is 103.
“I was in the U.S. Coast Guard,” Grable said. “I was proud to say that I didn’t kill anybody, but I saved a lot of them.”
“We’re up in the air a good 20 minutes,” Cyrier said. “We just do some nice, gentle turns and sometimes we’ll actually have some of the veterans ask us to take us over to where they live, maybe their residence. You know, they always thank us, but really we’re thanking them.”
He said he likes to hear their life stories, not just the years they were at war. Cyrier said it is important to remind others of the sacrifices “the greatest generation” made for us.
“What a privilege to get to fly with you today,” he told the veterans.
“Well, it was a pleasure for me, too,” Grable said. “I think it brings back a lot of memories.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”