Dave Fleischer is a 96-year-old World War II veteran from East Dallas. Just 21 when he joined the army, he still remembers hearing the bombs as he served a cook for a fighter squadron. “I was really scared at that time,” he recalls.
Fleischer traveled with a group of veterans to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans as part of the Soaring Valor program sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation. Sinise, known for playing roles in Forest Gump and Apollo 13, traveled with the veterans from Dallas. American Airlines chartered the flight with the crew volunteering their time.
Veterans Affairs estimates that almost 400 WWII veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, are dying every day. Soaring Valor is working to preserve the stories of the veterans who served in WWII before it’s too late.
According to Sinise, “Nowhere in the history of the world was freedom in more jeopardy than in World War II.” He credits the veterans with being the heroes that saved the world for the rest of us.
Even though he was ten miles behind the front line, he still remembers when he stood on guard duty. “’Course I was scared to death,” he said. He’d never shot a rifle before.
One night someone approached him. He grabbed his rifle, put a bullet in the chamber and was ready to shoot. It turned out to be a friendly. “I probably would have missed him anyway,” he laughed.
His daughter made the trip with him. She appreciates the program because it lets her share her hero with the rest of America.
Along with the 45 veterans were 45 high school students from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. The students wrote essays to be considered for the trip. Fleischer was paired with Thomas Stuart. Stuart plans to be a history teacher, 13newsnow.com reported.
He was excited by the opportunity to go on the trip. “The next generation needs to learn from the greatest generation because these people have so much to give us.”
The trip was a special time for one generation to share with another.
“It’s been wonderful,” Fleischer said.