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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

Flooding: Why the RDCK ordered hundreds of properties evacuated

All evacuation orders have now been rescinded

No immediate threat of flooding in Nakusp area: RDCK official

High water levels have been reported near Burton and Edgewood last weekend

Nakusp Hot Springs campground opens to RVs today

No tenting will be permitted at the campground at this time

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Angel Flight takes flight from Creston after being grounded by COVID-19

Angel Flight is a volunteer-run organization which gives people flights to doctors appointments

Nature Conservancy takes in more lands near Canal Flats

Badgers, bears and birds to benefit from bolstering bunchgrass conservation in Rocky Mountain Trench

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Most Read