When Cal Schultz, the World War II veteran whom I had interviewed for a story in the News-Sentinel and whom I was trying to convince to go on an Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana, admitted he was afraid to fly, I was stymied– almost.
He and his wife had taken many aerial trips. He had done them for her sake. Now with her gone he had refused to venture up into the wild blue skies again.
This was summer 2016. I had gone on an Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana in April 2016 with a 95-year-old female Navy vet.
With all sincerity I leaned forward and looked him straight in the eye. “Cal, the flight is only one hour,” I said. “You’ll be so distracted by everyone’s happy faces and excitement that you won’t even think about anything else.”
A friend of his and the World War II veteran who had introduced us, Gene Dettmer, backed me up. Eventually, Cal conceded and agreed to sign up for a flight.
After reading Cal’s story at the link above, you’ll know he endured the Battle of the Bulge and long marches and did what he was told. I was honored and thrilled to accompany him on September 2016 Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana.
Cal was a trooper throughout the day. He didn’t get sick or nervous in the air and was overjoyed to meet his son and his wife in DC. They spent several hours together with our group touring the city.
It was a special day for all of us.
Cal enjoyed the mail call on the return trip on Honor Flight. Cal was dedicated to his family and church and friends and received many cards from them.
Sadly, Cal’s life on earth ended on April 27, 2018. I attended the viewing and his family was appreciative of the story I wrote, which is included in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. Cal’s is one of 34 stories of men/women from every branch who served.
I know it’s the nature of the project of interviewing people in their 90s that they may experience death sooner than some of us. Still, it makes it hard to lose them. Cal was always happy and supportive and cooperative. I enjoyed every minute of knowing him.
I encourage each reader of this blog to find a military veteran today and say thank you for his/her service. I further challenge you to go to a nursing home to look for this veteran. Often they are limited in their lives and need friends.
Let me know if you decide to venture outside of what may be your comfort zone and meet a friend who has served our country. I know you’ll be blessed!