UTAH

WWII veteran takes to the air again to honor his late wife

Jun 23, 2019, 1:36 PM
Photo courtesy of Getty Images. WWII bomber. B-25 Mitchell....
Photo courtesy of Getty Images. WWII bomber. B-25 Mitchell.

MOUNTAIN GREEN, Utah (AP) — A World War II veteran mourning his wife of 73 years has honored her memory with a flight in a plane like he once flew over France and Germany.

Bill Willis’s wife Julia had always encouraged her husband to reflect on his war stories and fly again, but he tended to downplay his service, KSL-TV reported.

But after Julia Willis died in April at age 95, he accepted an offer of a ride from a pilot at a rural Utah airport in Morgan County, not far from his granddaughter’s home in Kaysville. Bill Willis hadn’t flown a Boeing PT-17 Stearman since 1948 and needed a little help putting on his parachute and getting into the front seat, but the craft was familiar.

“I have flown that same kind of airplane with her up front and I was in the back,” said the 97-year-old, remembering his wife. “I’d like to think she was sitting there with me.”

Granddaughter Steffoni Garner said she knows her grandmother watched the ride in spirit and would have been proud. “It was just meant to be,” Garner said.

The couple met in New York in 1938, when they lived across the street from each other.
Bill Willis flew for the 55th Fighter Group during World War II, escorting bombers and destroying transportation infrastructure in Europe.

They later moved to Costa Mesa, California.

“It’s going to be hard for me to go back to the house,” a teary-eyed Willis, 97, said. “All I can say is she’s a wonderful lady and I miss her.”

Today’s Top Stories

Utah

The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville. Photo credit: John Wilson....
Devin Oldroyd

Deuel Creek Fire starts in Centerville overnight, evacuation order lifted

The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville.
9 hours ago
Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening. Photo Credit: Tooele City's Faceboo...
Devin Oldroyd

Tooele City releases fireworks restrictions map

Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening.
1 day ago
Photo credit: UDOT...
Devin Oldroyd

Semi-truck rolls on I-80 at U.S.-40, Silver Creek Junction

What caused the semi-truck to roll is still under investigation at this time. All lanes in the area have been cleared and are operational.
1 day ago
Image from the scene of the shooting on South Major street in Salt Lake City (Photo courtesy of SLC...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: SLCPD investigating party shooting that left one in critical condition

Police received multiple calls regarding shots fired near 1485 South Major Street at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday July 3, 2022. 
1 day ago
The scene of the shooting at 900 S. 200 West (Photo courtesy of Adam Sotelo)...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: Shooting on TRAX platform leaves one dead, one injured

Police responded to reports of shots fired on a TRAX platform near 900 South and 200 West at around 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
1 day ago
Man dies at flight show during his performance in shockwave jet truck....
Waverly Golden

Man dies during performance at Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show

Battle Creek Police Department, Federal Aviation Administration Officials, and the fire department are still investigating the accident. 
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
WWII veteran takes to the air again to honor his late wife