SAN DIEGO (CBS Local) — A 95-year-old veteran of World War II who flew to Washington as part of an all-expenses-paid weekend trip collapsed died during the return trip to San Diego.
Frank Manchel collapsed Sunday on the final leg of a trip sponsored by Honor Flight San Diego, a nonprofit organization that gives World War II veterans all-expense-paid trips to see memorials and museums in Washington, D.C.
Two physicians, including his own son, Dr. Bruce Manchel, tried to resuscitate him, but he died before the plane landed at San Diego International Airport, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“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, which was then draped in an American flag. As the plane descended into San Diego, passengers began singing “God Bless America.”
After the plane landed, the other 81 veterans aboard saluted their fallen comrade as they filed out the jetliner. Medical personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers also saluted as the body as it was removed through the rear of the plane, following protocol for a dead police officer or member of the armed services.
“My father’s passing was the ending to the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends,” said Dr. Manchel in a statement released 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.”
American Airlines has offered to take the Manchel’s remains and family members to Michigan, where services and burial are planned.