WWII B-17 veterans take special flight in Oshkosh

OSHKOSH – For some area World War II veterans, Monday meant a flight back in time.

It was a journey they had made before, but this journey above Oshkosh was different.

Just like he did as a pilot some 70 years ago, Robert Abresch climbed up the ladder of a B-17 bomber.

“I always admire that airplane,” said the retired WWII Army Air Force pilot.

On a cloudy cold day at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, the engines of the EAA’s Flying Fortress sprung to life. So too, did the over 90-year-old WWII Army Air Force veterans reunited with the kind of plane they’ll never forget.

“I love the B-17 it’s a nice airplane to fly,” said Abresh.

“I’ve always admired the toughness and the terrific design of the B-17,” added fellow WWII B-17 pilot Scott Welch.

Each of the WWII bombers held a 10-man crew. The EAA helped bring them together Monday for the special ceremonial flight. As they left the EAA Museum, a special salute greeted the veterans’ motorcade.

Family members say seeing the men together is like watching history come alive.

“It’s a really interesting group because you see them get really energized. Because they can talk about something that was very exciting for them,” said Abresh’s son David Abresh.

Stories of duty.

“We did bombings on D-Day,” said Abresh.

And survival.

“We flew to Berlin and we lost an engine over Berlin and that meant we had to fly back on our own, we couldn’t stay with the group,” said Abresh.

There was no such danger Monday, but to these veterans the flight was special. And to their families and onlookers, a reminder that a flight with what many consider to be our country’s greatest generation, may never be seen again.

“It’s a great honor to have a war hero, he wouldn’t call himself that because he says he is just like everyone else, but I consider him that definitely,” said David Abresh.

And so do many others.

All of the veterans on the flight either live in or are originally from Wisconsin.

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