World War II veterans take flight in Alma

ALMA, Neb. (KSNB) – Two World War II veterans had the opportunity to take a ride in the sky once again at Alma Municipal Airport on Friday.

Veterans were offered a free morning get on a biplane via “Dream Flights”. Family, friends and other members of the community came to see the two men experience something special for them.

John Hawley, 96, and Donald Woodruff, 99, had served in the military during World War II. Both veterans were staying at Alma’s nursing home, the Good Samaritan Society. Erica Little, activities coordinator for the Good Samaritan Society, said the two have been looking forward to the day of the flight for some time.

“The two residents were just super excited, Don was telling me he used to fly in planes like these during the war, so he was so excited to be able to come back in one and just kind of. experience again, ”Little mentioned. “I know John was very excited too.”

Woodruff, or as some call “Woody,” said he first flew a plane around 1944 while stationed in New Guinea – But the veteran added that Friday was his first time. was boarding a double-winged plane.

“I just looked and gave up on people and moved on,” Woodruff said. “He told me to look up – I didn’t. I looked them straight in the eye, I abandoned them. It didn’t bother me.

Woodruff said he was in Pearl Harbor when attacked by Japan and was only half a mile south of where the ships were capsizing.

Lisa Gennaro, Woodruff’s first cousin, said she connected with Woodruff about 10 years ago, wanting to know more about her family history.

“I wish more young people would hear the stories of the veterans because, like I said, even with Woody, I learned so much about the history and even what he went through there.” , said Gennaro.

In September, Woody had planned to celebrate his 100th birthday at the retirement home with plenty of desserts – and the icing on the cake was the robbery he experienced on Friday morning.

Woodruff and Hawley took a 20-minute plane trip each over Alma and got a chance to sign their names on the tail of the plane after their trips.

Copyright 2021 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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