‘Flight of a lifetime’: Veterans and seniors honored through flight in WWII plane

Posted at 4:57 PM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 16:57:46-04

SPARTA, Mich. – A handful of veterans and seniors were given the “flight of a lifetime” in a WWII biplane thanks to a non-profit dedicated to serving those who’ve given so much.

Eight veterans and seniors from the Covenant Village of the Great Lakes, ages 80-100, climbed aboard one of three fully-restored Boeing Stearman biplanes. For some, it was the first time seeing West Michigan from the sky, courtesy of Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation.

“It almost makes me speechless,” Grant Anderson, a WWII veteran said as he climbed out of the front cockpit.

Anderson was a Marine Captain from 1942-1953, serving as a US Marine Night Fighter Pilot in the Pacific. His wife Gloria was with him Wednesday, showing her support and sharing stories of their love with FOX 17 News as her husband flew through the sky once again.

“He went off to win the war when I was only 16, and I didn’t see him for 62 years,” said Gloria Anderson. “So we got together a number of years ago and now we’ve been married 12 years,” Anderson said.

Gloria learned to drill, buck, and rivet thanks to the Rosie the Riveter campaign, riveting airplanes in Chicago. After all those years, she believes it was fate that brought them back together.

The Andersons are some of the 2,000 veterans and senior citizens honored by the Dreams Foundation. Others in attendance were Pat Carpentier, M. Jane Doyle, Bob Fronozak, Chuck Smith, Ira Spiker, Jim Stephens, Bernice Zeman, and Lloyd Mitz (from Sr. Neighbors of Sparta).

Everyone onboard was given a hat signed by the pilot and a new story to tell friends and loved ones.