On Aug. 13, Operation September Freedom (OSF) landed in Livermore to honor WWII veterans. The public was invited to be part of the historic experience by attending the Dream Flight event at the Livermore Municipal Airport.
OSF is a national effort by nonprofit Dream Flights to honor more than 1,000 WW II veterans with free Dream Flights in six restored Boeing Stearman biplanes.
“I can’t wait (to) see their faces when they board the planes — are in the air — and when their flight is complete,” said Zeke Griffin, executive director of the Stoneridge Creek retirement community, before the event. “These veterans have helped take the culture at Stoneridge Creek to new heights, and it’s such a joy to honor their service and sacrifice.”
According to Dream Flights Founder Darryl Fisher, the tour name, Operation September Freedom, represents the Sept. 2, 1945, signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which effectively ended WWII.
“Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, only an estimated 100,000 are still living,” said Fisher. “Operation September Freedom is our last opportunity to thank the men and women who served in the war that changed the world. The freedoms each of us enjoys today are due to their sacrifice and bravery.”
Dream Flights pilots, who primarily fly for major airlines and are active duty or retired military veterans. They volunteer their time to fly these veterans in the country's largest fleet of restored/fully operational Stearman biplanes. During the 20-minute flight, Dream Flyers experience the exhilaration of soaring 1,000 feet in the air in an iconic, open-cockpit-biplane.
The six honorees who took the Dream Flight from Stoneridge Creek were:
Don Ashton, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, USS Effingham, 1943-1946
Richard Karn, Fireman 1st Class, U.S. Navy, Asiatic-Pacific Theater, 1945-1946
Frank Louie, Airman 1st Class, U.S. Air Force, 1951-1955
Phil Wire, Gunner Mate, U.S. Navy, 1951-1955
Al Baer, Captain, U.S. Air Force, 1961-1967
Joel Kass, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, 1962-1969