Airmen help fulfill wish

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Laura L. Valentine
  • 22nd Air Refueling Squadron Public Affairs
For Kansas veteran Bob Spatz, a lot has changed in the past 92 years. However, one wish remained constant, and with the help of Team McConnell that wish was realized.

Spatz and several members of his family, spanning four generations, visited McConnell July 14, 2012.

Spatz, a World War II and Korean War veteran, is a resident of the Sterling House Emporia assisted-living center, located approximately 80 miles north east of McConnell.

"The tour was to honor his brother," said Lisa Johnson, Sterling House activities director, "even though they were both in the service."

Spatz was on base as part of his "Wish of a Lifetime."

Granted by the Jeremy Bloom Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, which grants lifelong wishes to seniors, Spatz's wish was to take a flight on a B-29 Superfortress and to visit the building at McConnell dedicated to his brother, Harold Spatz.

Dormitory 340, one of three unaccompanied-Airman residences on base, was dedicated to Sgt. Harold Spatz in 2001.

Harold took part in the World War II Doolittle Raid April 18, 1942, as a member of the crew on plane 16. Due to low fuel, his plane crash-landed in Japanese occupied territory.

Harold and two other members of the raid were captured, court-martialed and sentenced to death. On October 15, 1942, the three Airmen were executed.

Following the tour of the dormitory, Spatz was granted the opportunity to fly on a World War II-era B-24 Liberator at Col. James Jabara Airport, Wichita, Kan. During his years in the service, Spatz worked on B-29 aircraft, but was never given the opportunity to go on a flight. Spatz received the B-24 flight because there are no remaining B-29s available for public flights.

"I got the wish of a lifetime," Spatz told a reporter from the Wichita Eagle after his 30-minute Liberator flight.

"I felt honored to help a fellow veteran who had an impact on the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. Maria Ruiz, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs community relations NCO in charge, "and happy to help his family fulfill his last wish."