Seven area veterans enjoy a Dream Flight in a WWII era bi-plane

Composite/photos by Joseph Frederick.

On Aug. 16, 2023, seven veterans from Bell Tower Residence in Merrill flew with Dream Flights at the Merrill Airport. Each received a 20-minute ride in a genuine WWII-era bi-plane. This is the third year Bell Tower participated in Dream Flights. “The veterans, some of whom may not have walked regularly in a year or more, find the strength to be assisted into the bi-plane, take the flight of a lifetime, and return with a smile that lights up the world,” said Kris McCarigle of Bell Tower Residence in a press release.
The Merrill area veterans flying this year included:

  • Joe Breaman, age 85, Senior Master Sergeant E8, who served 21 years in the US Airforce & 23 years in US Civil Service. He served in the Vietnam War three different times and said he enjoyed being a part of the corps and serving this beautiful country.
  • Rex Buehler, age 84, PFC who served two years in the US Army. He said the highlight of his military career was spending 10 months in Germany.
  • Joe Folta, age 90, Private who served from 1952-1953 in the US Army in the Korean War.
  • Wayne Smith, age 95, Second Class, serving four years in the US Navy. He served in the Korean War, Evacuations. He remembers the highlights of his military career as “The beer and people!”
  • Phil Cohrs, age 89, Acting Sergeant & Quarter Master who served two years in the US Army. He took care of supplies for soldiers during the Vietnam War and said he did not see war/combat. He said he got along well and made lots of friends during his time in the military.
  • Willie Cohrs, age 85, S.S.C. Sergeant First Class who served 12 years in the US Army National Guard. He served as a cook during the Berlin Crisis and enjoyed getting to travel a lot.
  • Kenny Graap, age 86, Sergeant, who served 14 years in the US Army National Guard. He said the highlight of his service was being stationed in Washington working with armor tanks.
Rex Buehler is all set for takeoff, ready to experience his Dream Flight. Joseph Frederick photo.
Taxiing on the runway at the Merrill Airport. Angelina Frederick photo.

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