INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It’s been more than 60 years since Ced Fowler stepped on board a military aircraft, but recently this 99-year-old World War II veteran took a trip into the wild blue yonder.
For this retired Army Air Corp Tech Sergeant, being around a warbird is old hat.
Fowler got a special flight to honor his service during World War II.
“It triggers a lot of memories that even family members don’t get to hear often times when they get around these aircraft or they get around this era of vehicles," said Mark Vanzant from Warbird Expo.
Fowler’s memories of his service can be recalled as if they happened yesterday.
He enlisted in 1942 and was assigned to the 314th Air Division, in Guam just 1,600 miles south of Japan. He was in charge of maintaining the radar units on the B-29 bombers in his division.
"I just had to work on them and at the same time I had to teach them because they didn't know anything about it. They were young kids about 20. They called me dad, I was 29 and they called me dad and the old man," laughed Fowler.
He did not typically fly on missions, but on March 10, 1945 he was scheduled to. At the last minute another radar operator joined the crew and Fowler stayed behind.
That plane was shot down over Tokyo and all 11 on board were killed.
"The good Lord was protecting me, but I feel just a little bit guilty. They plan for me to go somebody had to go and they were shot down in the first mission. A historian and I have looked all through the records and we have no record from where he came from. He wasn't a part of our outfit," said Fowler.
His daughter, Cathy Middendorf, says this is something that bothers her father to this day.
“He cared about them. You know they were buddies and he cared about them and he cared about his country," said Middendorf.
Cathy says she is proud of her father and knows she’s blessed to still have both her parents.
"We try to do as much as we can together," said Middendorf, but she admits this Warbird plane ride takes the cake.
Maybe in a small way, this flight honor the buddies Fowler lost more than 70 years ago.
"Good pilot, thank you appreciate that," laughed Fowler as he exited the plane and thanked everyone.
"I had fun. I enjoyed it. I thank you very much," said Fowler.
He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. He turns 100 this November. He and his wife, 97-year-old Dorothy are celebrating 77 years of marriage.