DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — A 96-year-old World War II veteran in Darlington County got a flight in a vintage plane Friday.
Rocky Gannon got to live one of his dreams, flying in a fully-restored 1940 Boeing Stearman plan.
“Today is probably the second-most exciting moment next to my honeymoon 70 years ago,” Gannon said.
Gannon has been on more than 400 combat missions.
“Somebody loves me,” he said. “I was in WWII, Korea, a year in the Belgium Congo and the Civilian and Vietnam. So everything I thought of as a child, I’ve done.”
On Friday, volunteer pilot Marcus Smith took him on his last flight.
“There’s no better time than now,” Smith said. “We estimate that we have about 5-7 years left before the majority of the WWII veterans are gone. If they didn’t go off and do what they did, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing now.”
A last flight, which Gannon said brings back memories of his first one.
“I think back to that first day and how kind that gentleman was,” Gannon said. “I was 9 years old. He didn’t realize, he died later after flying into a mountain somewhere, but I think of him all the time. I say if only he could see the things that I’ve done as a result of him giving me that airplane ride.”
With a smile on his face and his daughters by his side, Gannon said one thing is for sure.
“I’ve had the world’s worst and this is the world’s greatest,” he said. “So I’m happy and I’m hoping that I c an hang out a little longer.”