It was only a half-hour in the air, but the flight of the North American B–25 Mitchell bomber Old Glory above Hawaii during an aerial parade marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of World War II’s end on September 2 meant the world to those aboard.
“To honor those veterans and the veterans we are flying—these planes are veterans too—we were all very touched by it,” she said by phone shortly after the commemoration’s final flight, which took David Prescott’s Old Glory and the other parading warbirds over the memorials for the USS Arizona, on which 1,177 sailors died during the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, and the USS Missouri, on which Japan’s surrender was accepted on September 2, 1945.
Despite recently increased coronavirus-related restrictions in effect in Hawaii, organizers of the event chartered by Congress “to thank and honor veterans of World War II, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans” took care to make the commemoration flights accessible to the public: Flight routing took the aerial parades over checkpoints that afforded good viewing of the aircraft.
“We included them the best we could,” she said. “The public has been appreciative of the efforts of all these private citizens.”
Budde-Jones said Old Glory’s crew would most treasure memories of flights they took with World War II veterans aboard as passengers of honor, all “sharing something that defies description.”
“We wanted to say, one more time, ‘thanks,’” she said.