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Daughter shares veteran's story
Nearly 800 Nebraska veterans were aboard two flights to Washington D.C. last week to see the World War II Memorial and other monuments in the city. NEWS 5's Dennis Kellogg and videographer Kevin Rempe also made the trip and tonight they bring us the story of one veteran who was not on either one of those flights.
Like so many World War II veterans, Neal Pettit passed away before he got the chance to see the memorial. His family, though, remembered him in a special way at the banquet before last week's flight. Neal's daughter Vickie Olson told his story in her own words:
"He was a navigator on a B–24 and on a mission over Parcham, his 26th mission, the plane was shot down and caught on fire and he was not able to open the doors to bail out. He had to jump into the fire and kick the doors open and the crew bailed out. They did lose four men. He was a P–O–W. He received the purple heart because he was burned on his face and hands.
"He passed away February 2nd with a calendar on the wall marking off the days until Honor Flight.
"He was scheduled to go with this group of men and I would love to hug every single one of them. This is a fabulous thing.
It meant the world to him. He had written this book. After my mother passed away in '91, he seemed to live through the letters that they had written to each other through the war and he wanted to put it all down historically for the family. So this is just a family book. It is not available at Barnes and Noble, or anything like that, but it is his story of all 26 missions and it is all from the heart.
"We had planned on sharing this trip with him either by being here for the dinner or a couple of the kids were going to meet him in Washington D.C. and help him get around. That did not work out.
"Over the last couple of months I have been putting my dad's life in order and closing it out and this is like the last hurrah. The last great thing we can do for him now."
Neal's family received special recognition and a loud round of applause for all those at the banquet.
One of Neal's children, Tracy, lives in Hastings. Neal Pettit was 88 years old when he passed away.
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