SAN MARCOS, Texas — For Veterans Day, we wanted to take you along a special ride that one World War II Veteran got to take last week – a trip of a lifetime.
Sometimes it takes us a second to realize what's around us. It can seem simple, but it can also be a piece of history.
"'That's All Brother' is a C-47," said Joe Enzminger, the Leader with the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). "When you stand in it, you feel the history."
The plane lives in San Marcos, Texas, and the CAF in San Marcos keeps it flying. 97-year-old Lew Griffith is a World War II (WWII) veteran, and as far as he knew, he was coming to tour the WWII-era plane: That's All ... Brother.
"So tell me about this," Griffith was asked while walking up to the plane.
"The aircraft is a cargo airplane, but it also is the one that paratroopers jumped out of," he explained. "This one's mission [was] leading the paratrooper invasion in Normandy."
It was the first plane into Normandy on D-Day, and Griffith got to do more than just look.
"We're getting ready to fly Lew," said Enzminger. "Pretty historic airplane, pretty historic guy. So we're putting the two together in honor of his 98th birthday and also his service in the US Air Force."
The plane still flies regularly and even made it back over to Normandy a few years ago. The point of the CAF is to keep these planes flying and preserve history.
But it's not always filled with a passenger like this.
"I rode in an awful lot of these, in these seats," Griffith said. "Even well after the war, they stayed in the inventory I guess until the 60s, I don't remember."
It's a plane that served in the same war as Griffith. He turned 18 just four days before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. But this is a sight Griffith had never seen before. The plane left the San Marcos Airport and made a lap around Downtown Austin.
"You can't fly over a city at less than 5,000 feet, and the airliners are banned from doing that," explained Griffith. "So you get a lot better view than you ordinarily get. You can almost count the bricks."
But even Griffith knows the importance of this plane lives with the men who left if in 1944.
"A lot of them didn't get a round trip," Griffith said.
"This is a pretty historic airplane, it's a pretty big treat to get to fly in it and a pretty big honor to fly it period," said Enzminger.
Taking that second to realize, it's sometimes the simpler thing that is a true piece of living history.
If you would like to visit the CAF or want to learn more about them, you can click here.
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