WWII vet from Racine, WI dies just as he arrives for Honor Flight to DC

My family and I have become involved in Honor Flight, a system of flights being run from various places around the country for the purpose of bringing WWII vets to Washington, DC so they can enjoy the WWII Memorial and other monuments erected in their honor. With our WWII vets entering their 90’s and, frankly, with so many passing beyond us every year, time is of the essence. This story, then, caught my eye and just made me sad…

Walter Smith was thrilled when he learned he had been chosen to travel on Saturday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to Washington.

The 91-year-old World War II veteran from Racine had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and had been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes this year. But the honor flight motivated him to work hard on his rehabilitation.

In a cruel twist, Smith died Saturday morning shortly after his family arrived at Mitchell International Airport to drop him off.

Sergeant Smith served in Europe and in was in the 2nd wave of soldiers landing on the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. He was wounded in combat and was decorated with 2 Purple Hearts. The flag that was used to drape his coffin will be flown to DC on the next flight out of the Wisconsin area this September. I do plan on being there at the airport when they arrive. I’ll be sure to write about it again when it happens.