Thirty-two WWII veterans who live in 16 Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) communities were all smiles and ‘thumbs up’ as they took off on “Dream Flights” in one of 6 restored Boeing Stearman biplanes, once used to train aviators during World War II.
They were participating in Operation September Freedom, a national effort to honor as many World War II veterans as possible with free Dream Flights in restored, open-cockpit WWII-era biplanes during the months of August and September.
Friends and families waved American flags and some events included color guards, VFW chapters and bands. Tom Reamer, Korean War veteran and Timber Hills resident, came in uniform to offer a prayer and a salute in many opening ceremonies.
The planes were flown by volunteer commercial pilots who assisted each veteran into the open cockpits with expertise and grace. Harnessed in, aviator caps on – they took to the skies for the 20-minute flight at 1,000 feet in the air.
After every flight, the veterans were given a commemorative hat, signed by their pilot. Then each veteran added their signature to the airplane’s tail. When Operation September Freedom is over, the signed tailpieces of all six planes will be displayed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Watch the slideshow of Operation September Freedom.
A last chance to honor WWII veterans
WWII effectively ended on September 2, 1945. Now 66 years later, of the 16 million Americans who answered the call to serve, only about 100,000 are alive today. Darryl Fisher, Founder and President of Dream Flights, said, “Operation September Freedom is our last chance to honor our nation’s WWII heroes for the service and sacrifice. Wherever WWII veterans are located, we’ll find our way to their nearest airport and create a moment of magic they can relive until their last days.”
Thank you to Life Enrichment Director Nancy Schwartz and the Life Enrichment teams for making Operation September Freedom a mission accomplished!
Sign up to get more inspiring stories plus resourceful information on living well!