Walter Smith, 91, of Racine, Wisconsin almost made it.
The World War II veteran was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and this week he was on the list of veterans to be honored with an “honor flight,” in which World War II vets are flown to the World War II Memorial in Washington and Arlington National Cemetery for the day.
“I really, truly believe the flight kept him hanging on for much longer,” his son, Mark Smith, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He was extremely excited about the whole trip. He definitely was looking forward to going. It was the driving force for him to get better.”
He died Saturday morning just as he arrived at the airport for the flight. A flag on his casket at his funeral will be on the next flight in September.
By the way, the next Honor Flight out of the Twin Cities in the fall is full. The local organization is taking reservations for flights next April and next October.