MESA, Ariz. — A World War II veteran from Queen Creek took a special flight in a war-era aircraft from Falcon Field Airport in Mesa this weekend.
It was a trip across the sky he will never forget, all made possible by a Valley organization called Grounded No More, that goes the extra mile to make sure veterans are honored and recognized.
“I was radar, I did most of my time on the ship, sonar, listened for submarines,” said John Officer, the World War II vet.
Officer served with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific.
“After the war was over, we cruised around looking for maybe downed airmen that were on some of the islands,” he said. “It was pretty interesting.”
Officer explained that, despite the sometimes scary moments, his faith helped him get through it.
“I was never afraid because I always thought God would take care of me and he has, wonderfully well,” Officer said.
The plane used to take Officer into the sky is named Amazing Grace and is a Fairchild PT-26 World War II aircraft.
“I certainly didn’t expect anything like this,” he said before takeoff. “Oh, I’m eager!”
Officer was excited about the flight, but also a little nervous.
“I had a queasy stomach,” he said. “Can’t do any of the loop de loops.”
Out of the hundreds of veterans they’ve taken up over the past several years, Officer is the 12th World War II veteran they’ve taken to the skies.
“There’s not a lot of us left,” he said.
During the flight, they did a fly-over tribute over the Run for the Fallen Relay race, as the runners passed by the San Tan Valley American Legion Hall.
Officer, returned with a huge smile.
“Aw! That was wonderful,” he said.
The Patriot Guard Riders were on hand with a Flag Line and local dignitaries, honoring this great American.
“I appreciate your coming out to see me,” he said. “I’m a pretty low-key fella, I didn’t expect anything like this… it was wonderful, wonderful.”
An experience he will never forget.
For more information about Grounded No More, Inc., visit their website.
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