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

COVID-19: Parksville bylaw officers to enforce provincial health orders

Residents will be reminded to social distance and stay off playgrounds

COVID-19: Working from home in Parksville Qualicum Beach

How locals are responding to the ongoing coronavirus situation

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach Farmers Market re-opens under strict guidelines

‘Shop, don’t stop. Buy what you need and give others space and be efficient’

COVID-19: Nanoose Bay man forges hearts for his community

Kasprick has already given out approximately 400, plans to make it 600

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

COVID-19 PQB business update: looking for takeout food?

Email messages to editor@pqbnews.com

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Most Read