SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Two local veterans were honored for their service with a special flight out of Felts Field.
One of those men was just 15-years-old when he was sent to war. Decades later, he was taken on a flight to celebrate his dedication to country.
The day at Felts Field was perfect for flight. Sunny and clear. Much different than when Bill Turner learned to fly.
“I was out on patrol one day, he said, 'Turner, do you know how to fly?’ I never had to fly yet. He said, ‘Today you learn to fly.’ That day, in the rear seat of an OS2-U I learned to fly. I was 17,” Turner said.
At just 17-years-old Turner was already a veteran of war. He had quit school at 15-years-old and joined the Maritime Service where he served for three years.
Turner and fellow veteran Larry Caulkins are no longer in uniform. They no longer fly in service or for a living. Their service was recently honored in a unique way.
Horizon Hospice and Moody Aviation teamed up to give these men one last flight. A chance to sit, not in the pilot seat but as passengers, to enjoy the beautiful, quiet Inland Northwest. The flight was far removed from their days at war but was a chance to bring them closer to the memories and love they shared for flight.
Turner and Caulkins boarded a Cessna, not a war plane, but a way to enjoy an hour at altitude. Both said they loved the chance to fly again but were surprised by all the attention.
“They wondered what the fuss what about and frankly, they got in that airplane and the crowd receded back. It was just us and we could be quiet,” said Flight instructor Gene Arnold.
The friends and family that gathered could not be stopped from telling the men thank you. A chance to thank what has been coined the 'greatest generation' is not always easy and not to be passed.
After his military service, Turner would go on to become a longtime commercial pilot flying throughout Alaska. He said the beautiful day in Spokane reminded him of those days. But he reflected on his wartime experience as well.
“I wouldn't go through it again for any amount of money but I wouldn't take any amount of money for what I've been through," Turner explained.
Now to his long list of life experiences he can add one last flight.