HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – A piece of history landed at the Hays Regional Airport Tuesday.
The Flying Legends of Victory Tour brought one of the most iconic airplanes from World War II — the B-17 Bomber “Sentimental Journey.”
It’s been more than 70 years since Victoria resident, Charles Vsetecka, stepped into a bomber plane.
With some assistance from the flight crew, Vsetecka slowly made his way into the B-17.
“It was so hard to get on,” he said. “I thought about how easy it used to be.”
Vsetecka served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He worked as a radar operator flying in a B-24 bomber, similar to the B-17 he flew in on Tuesday.
“I had my scope,” he explained. “I watched and it showed me any ships moving or anything like that.”
Vsetecka was only 20 years old, with the huge responsibility of looking for enemy ships.
“If we found enemy shipping, then we’d drop down in altitude and tried to bomb them,” he said.
Vsetecka flew in 19 missions, and as he sat in the plane today, it brought back memories of flying in combat.
“You had ear phones on, and you were listening to somebody call you or something,” he recalled. “I sat there watching the scope all the time.”
For Vsetecka, he believes it’s important for the younger generation to learn about the sacrifices made to preserve American freedoms. He said he makes an effort to share his experiences with his great-grandson.
“I’m just happy to have some people who served for this country and have helped make this place better,” said Nate Schuckman, great-grandson of Vsetecka.
For those currently serving the country, Vsetecka shared this message: “There will be some times where they don’t like it. I know that because I went through that too, but always remember your country comes first.”
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum will hold the Flying Legends of Victory Tour through Sunday, June 5. The public is invited to tour and ride in the iconic warbirds. For more information about the tour, visit their website.