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.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Abbotsford’s dashing first police constable

Police post throwback photo on their social media accounts

Hub Motor Service celebrates 65 years

Open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at Essendene Avenue location

Traffic accident on Highway 1

Hour long backup from Abbotsford to Langley

VIDEO: Abbotsford driver uses aisle of bus for rainy-day cardio routine

Driver makes productive use of his break for an on-board walking session

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Memorial to deceased teen stays in place through Labour Day

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Walnut Grove skate park

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Most Read