LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The family of a West Texas war hero who died fighting in World War II takes a symbolic ride on the same type of plane Jimmie Doyle was shot down in over the Pacific Ocean.
Doyle's remains were discovered, identified and brought back to the South Plains. He was buried almost exactly a year ago.
Doyle's only son Tommy and his two children flew to Dallas Monday morning and the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour gave them tickets for a once in a lifetime trip home. "I feel closer to him and I feel like I know what happened," says Tommy Doyle who was 15 months old when he last saw his father.
Doyle says the flight was the icing on the cake. He and his children spent almost two hours in the sky on a B-24 Heavy Bomber, the same type of plane his father fought in. "I was able to sit where he sat with the things that were special to him and they are special to me," says Doyle who carried precious cargo in his pocked on Monday's flight. "They found my Dad's dog tags and my mother's wedding ring. She had given it to him to bring back when he came home and the last time they were on B-24 they spent the next 64 years on the bottom of the ocean."
Jimmy Doyle was only 25 when he left his wife and only child in Lamesa to go fight in the war. Doyle was a nose gunner on the B-24 and what was left of the plane was discovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean back in 2005. After six decades, Doyle came home. He was buried next to his wife last April.
"The connection that the children and grandchildren make is a very strong one. In some cases they never knew their father and the connectivity they have is with the aircraft," says pilot Rob Collings with The Collings Foundation.
The non-profit group flies three war time aircrafts around the country educating and memorializing the sacrifices made during those years. "We never knew him but we are proud of him. This brings us a little closer to him," says Doyle who appreciates all the people who made the flight a possibility.
In two weeks, the Doyles will make the trip to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony to honor the crew that was shot down. The unidentifiable remains of the crew from the plane will be buried together under one headstone. The current president of Palau, the island nation where the plane was discovered, will make the trip for the service.
The flying history museum will be in town out at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport near Lubbock Aero on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday 14 from 9 a.m. to noon. Donations of $12 for adults and $6 for children are requested. Flight are available on the planes, but will cost you some money.
(Click here) to learn more about The Collings Foundation.
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