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Ageless Aviation Gives Its 2,000th Dream Flight To WWII Veteran

2,000th Dream Flight Recipient, WWII Veteran Lloyd Smith before takeoff

Ageless Aviation is a nonprofit dedicated to honoring senior military veterans with their mission being “giving back to those who have given.” They have now fulfilled their mission 2,000 times after their 2,000th Dream Flight earlier today at the Oxford Airport. The program began back in 2011 and has taken off ever since. Senior veterans are selected to take a ride in a fully restored Boeing Stearman biplane, the same aircraft used in the training of WWII aviators.

“It’s been so enjoyable to see these men who have given and been through so much enjoy something like this… after they are past the age when they ever considered that they’d have the chance to do something like this is just remarkable and extremely gratifying,” said Bill Fisher, who owns the plane used for the Dream Flights.

Six veterans received flights this morning; the 2,000th flight recipient was Lloyd Smith, 93, a Staff Sgt. in WWII, who was taken as a POW at the 17B Prison Camp in Krems, Austria. Smith’s plane was shot down, and after 30 minutes of trying to keep the plane afloat, he and his crew were picked up by a German boat and taken to the camp. Smith enjoyed the day and reflected on his service.

“I remember it all and would do it all over again for the most part. If I had a choice I might not take that last flight,” Smith said with a smile. “I had a good time today alright, and it was very flattering. I enjoyed that plane ride. That was quite a crowd to watch five ex-airmen take to the air. It’s been over 70 years; I was worried it may be a bit scary, but it wasn’t at all, I fell right back into the groove.”

When Smith was liberated from the POW camp and returned home, he found something waiting for him that he had been thinking about for a long time.

“When I got off the ship that brought me home, we had to stay in the port for a few hours, and I didn’t know why. I found out they were cooking up what we wanted for our first meal back in America.” Smith said, and he knew exactly what he wanted. “I ordered fried oysters. I had dreamed about them and a whole lot of things. I had a long time to think about that first meal, and it was everything I dreamed of.”lloyd-smith

On hand to support her husband was Smith’s wife Martha, who was so proud to see her husband continuing to be honored for his sacrifice.

“It makes me very proud and happy to see so many friends that are willing to do something like this for him,” Martha said.

Ageless Aviation’s mission of honoring veterans helps families of these men and women remember and pass these stories on to the next generation. Smith’s daughter, Marisa Ramage, was also in attendance and spoke about what it means to her to watch her father being honored and how she has enjoyed seeing these stories passed down.

“When I was growing up he didn’t really talk much about any of it because he still struggled with nightmares and things of that nature. But when my son Eric started learning about it in school, I told him about his granddaddy but wasn’t sure if he would talk about it, but that’s when he really opened up,” Ramage said. “It’s just great; we want people to appreciate the freedoms they have and to know what these men went through to get them, and it certainly means a lot to my dad and all of these guys.”

Other recipients of Dream Flights this morning included: Angus Emerson III, 79, 1st Lt. in the U.S Army from 1960-1962; Ernest P. Aune, 88, Sergeant for the Air Force from 1951-1955; Bruce Burt, Air Force, served from 1968-1972; Frank Miller, 90, a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force from 1943-1946 during WWII; And Kenneth Morton, 95, an Army Infantry Master Sergeant during WWII from 1942-1946.

Ageless Aviation has been to 72 communities across 22 states, but for its 2,000th flight, they returned to Oxford where it all began.

“We gave our first flight in Oxford in 2011, when my dad was paying the bills, and we had no idea how we could load people in the airplane, but it has all worked out. From that little seed we planted five years ago, we give our 2000th flight today,” Darryl Fisher, Bill’s son and the pilot for the Dream Flights, said. “Oxford will always be a part of our spirit and what we are doing.”

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com

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