A photo from the Honor Flight network, Department of Veterans Affairs U.S.

World War II vet dies during ‘Honour Flight’ trip

Frank Manchel, 95, died on flight home to San Diego

A 95-year-old former soldier died last weekend aboard a so-called Honor Flight carrying World War II veterans home to San Diego after an all-expenses-paid weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

Frank Manchel collapsed about an hour before the chartered American Airlines jet was due to land Sunday, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Two physicians including his own son, Dr. Bruce Manchel, were unable to revive him.

“It was almost instantaneous,” said Dave Smith, founder of Honor Flight San Diego. “He was laughing, chatting, having a good time — and then he collapsed.”

Chaplains prayed over the body and it was covered with an American flag.

READ MORE: Bikers plan to give bullied Shuswap girl a lift

As the plane was descending to its destination, former San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, the daughter of a World War II veteran, asked Dr. Manchel if he was up for honouring his father with the song “God Bless America.”

He agreed, and the plane was filled with song, the newspaper reported.

Fellow veterans saluted as they passed by Frank Manchel’s body while exiting the plane. Medical personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers also saluted as the body was taken from the plane.

“My father’s passing was the ending to the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends,” Dr. Manchel said in a statement Monday. “We thank all of you — Honor Flight San Diego, American Airlines, San Diego International Airport, friends, and supporters for your concern and for allowing the weekend to be so special for all of us to share together.

Zimmerman said the elder Manchel was in an upbeat mood when she chatted with his family on Saturday.

“He was 100 per cent engaged, proud, humble — as these veterans are,” Zimmerman said. “You could just tell how proud they all were of him. It was just wonderful, a loving, loving family.”

American Airlines offered to take the veteran’s remains and relatives to Michigan, where services and burial are planned.

READ MORE: Pilot project to use MedicAlert bracelets for B.C. youth with mental health conditions

Six other deaths have happened on Honor Flights originating from other cities.

“We know this is a potential situation,” said Smith. “We want to honour these veterans, but this is one of our worst fears that this might happen. We do everything we can to make sure these veterans are safe.”

The non-profit Honor Flight Network was founded to enable aging veterans to visit the National World War II Memorial, which was completed in 2004.

The organization plans to eventually focus on Korean War veterans and then those who served in Vietnam.

___

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Popular vocalist Daponte joined on Crofton stage by Don Leppard Big Band

Performances nothing short of remarkable with the singer’s instrumentation backing

Paying high prices getting too painful

Gas, real estate remain a heavy burden on consumers

Poetry in motion on the ocean

Dragon boaters offering rides for a donation during Ladysmith event

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

Prepare yourself for tick season, says Island Health official

2017 saw three reported cases of Lyme disease

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

Most Read