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WWII Veteran Returns to the Sky

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EUGENE, Ore. — Pinnacle Health Care gave two of its nursing home patients a very special gift Thursday morning–something they haven’t done in half a century.

His wings aren’t what they used to be and his wheels are a little rusty, nothing kept 85-year-old Grant Coleman out of this airplane.

The WWII paratrooper didn’t used to need any help getting into the cockpit, but even though Coleman’s body is slowing, his spirit never has and neither has his love for flying.

So with a shift of the helmet, Coleman was ready for his first flight in 52 years, send-off and all.

“He had that great smile on his face and all outfitted like a pilot in his bomber jacket and his white silk scarf. I think I’ll have to start calling him the Red Barron,” said his sister Jo Coleman.

Jo Coleman was giddy watching her brother’s 20-minute ride. The trip around the valley was a surprise from the Pinnacle Health Care staff, Coleman’s nursing home, and everyone, from nurses to ageless aviation pilot Darryl Fisher, was excited to be part of the gift.

“I was in the presence of greatness. The sacrifices he’s made that others have made give me the opportunity to do this. It’s giving back. It’s a totally satisfying experience,” Fisher said.

But most satisfied, was Coleman.

“It felt beautiful. It was like deja vu for 60-some years. Boom–I was right back where I was when I was 21, 22, 23,” Grant Coleman said.

Both Coleman and fellow vet Don Dububoch were beyond grateful for this experience.

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