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World War II veteran gets his wish to tour Vienna Air Reserve Station

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VIENNA, Ohio – A World War II veteran has his top wish granted.

Ninety-four-year-old Edward Heitsman, who has battled cancer and beat it twice, faced his biggest battle when he was a young man after he enlisted in the Air Force on September 13, 1943.

Heitsman, a fighter pilot during the war, was awarded the Bronze Star for acts of heroism in a combat zone. He says he didn't have a favorite plane, but loved whatever had wings.

Heitsman told Crossroads Hospice his one wish was to have a tour and see the planes, so on Sunday day he got that wish.

Surrounded by his sons, family, and friends the Commander of the 910th Airlift Wing, James Dignan, made Heitsman an honorary member. He gave the veteran new hats to wear, from the 910th, the 757th and the 773rd squadrons.

In addition, Chief Master Sergeant Troy Rhoades gave Heitsman a Challenge Coin and told the veteran, "Congratulations on a job well done."

Heitsman's sons brought maps their dad had. One showed troop movements in the Philippines. The other was a silk map of the Asian Pacific Campaign.

Jonathan Heitsman said there are so many things he would like to know, but his dad didn't really talk about the war. His dad responded saying, "There are some things you don't need to remember at all." The veteran says he had a job to do and he did it.

Another son, Timothy, said his dad was awarded the Bronze Star for volunteering to lead a guerrilla raid in the Philippines. He said his dad joined the Army after he got out of the Army Air Corps.

Heitsman was wheeled to a hangar where members of the 910th saluted the veteran. Norman Jones, another veteran from World War II who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was also honored by members of the Air Force Reserves during the tour. He is Jonathan Heitsman's father in law.

Almost seven decades after he left military service Heitsman, was wheeled up the ramp of the C-130 Hercules talking with members of our military who explained the plane is used air drops and tactical landings.

With this first wish granted, the veteran who will turn 95 in March, is aiming for his second wish to make it to 100.

His wish to see the Air Reserve Station was made possible by Crossroads Hospice in Akron and the U.S. Air Reserves.

Heitsman says, "Our current military men and women are doing a great job" and added, "We live in the greatest country on earth."

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