Mr. Speaker, at the height of World War II, Bill Kelly worked as an airplane mechanic. Stationed in the Marshall Islands, he and his team were responsible for the maintenance and repair of B–29 bombers that stopped over on their way to Japan and back.
He and his brothers-in-arms often stayed up all night preparing the planes for the next leg of their journey, on occasion even replacing whole one-ton engines overnight. Although he is currently 93, aviation has been, I quote, ‘‘second nature’’ to Bill for most of his life.
This is why the tribute one group arranged for him was so special. Recently, the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force made Bill the guest of honor at their fly-in in Lakewood, Florida.
To honor his service, Bill was given the opportunity to fly in a World War II-era B–17 bomber, the ‘‘Texas Raiders,’’ maintained by the group. Bill enjoyed his 20-minute flight and said that it brought back several good memories of his time in the service.
Mr. Speaker, as veterans of this war continue to grow older and fewer in number, it is important that we not let their sacrifice be forgotten. The members of the ‘‘Greatest Generation’’ made a unique contribution to the American nation, having not only endured the hardships of the Great Depression but also answered the call to defend our country after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Groups like the custodians of ‘‘Texas Raiders’’ that travel the country and give veterans the opportunity to fly in World War II aircraft are doing important work to ensure that our country’s veterans are not forgotten and are given due recognition of their bravery and sacrifice.
Bill remarked that at 93, he is, I quote, ‘‘pretty well advanced right now.’’ Bill, you may be ‘‘advanced’’ in life, but you are still front and center in our collective memory.
And that’s just the way it is.