WWII veterans from Springfield take special flight at Urbana’s Grimes Field

They were given special dream flights in a restored open-cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane with help of organization.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Several World War II veterans were paid a high honor for their service on Wednesday. Make that a sky-high honor.

Ten men ranging from 95 to 101 years old, including several residents of Springfield Masonic Community, were given special dream flights at Grimes Field in Urbana in a restored open-cockpit Boeing Stearman biplane.

The event was sponsored by Dream Flights, an organization dedicated to honoring military veterans and seniors with no-cost flights. This was part of Operation September, a program to give back to senior veterans.

It’s almost as beneficial for the Dream Flights employees as for their clients.

“It spins the clock backwards and reconnects them with their youth,” said Marcus Smith, a Dream Flight pilot and crew chief. “It’s such a rewarding thing to be able to do. They love it and gives them some excitement in their lives they’ve been missing.”

Families and friends were invited for the big day.

Eddie Fisher celebrated his 100th birthday in July and actually trained in this type of plane when he was a pilot for the U.S. Navy during the war. When he found out he’d be taking this trip, he joked to son Paul Fisher that he’d made captain.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Although Eddie Fisher was often up before 6 a.m. for years, he wasn’t that enthused to be called away from his rest the morning of the flight. Paul Fisher understood and noted his dad’s sense of humor kicked in when on the plane.

“After a hundred years, he probably deserves it,” Paul Fisher said. “They said the first words out of his mouth when they got him in his seat was ‘contact.’ ”

Army veteran Albert Carr’s service began in 1943 and discharged in fall of 1945, seeing action as part of the second wave of the D-Day invasion of Normandy and was wounded twice in France, earning the Purple Heart along with a Combat Infantry Badge and Presidential Citation Medal.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Wednesday’s experience was the second time he’d done this flight and even more rewarding.

“This was great, even better than the one before. I enjoyed it thoroughly,” he said.

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