World War II veteran prepares for Honor Flight - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

World War II veteran prepares for Honor Flight

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- 85-year-old Donald Palmer loves airplanes, especially B-17's.

"I've had a lot of fun with my flying," Palmer said. "I didn't get my pilots licence until I was 55."

But Palmer spent several years flying in a B17 with the 463rd bombardment group.

Palmer was a belly guner.

"The only thing I really had to do was to follow the bombs as they were dropped and see if they hit," he said. "Nothing ever got close enough for me to shoot at."

But he only flew 17 missions in Europe before he his plane was shot down and he was captured.

"The day we were shot down our group was the only group that went out on and flew a mission," Palmer said.

Everyone else stayed on the ground that day because of poor visibility.

He jumped from the plane and landed in a field close to a farm in Yugoslavia. Six of the ten crew members survived and spent nine months as prisoners of war traveling from camp to camp.

After nine months he was freed and returned to France.

On October 30th, 1945 he was discharged. He moved back to Iowa with a lot of life experience.

Tuesday he flies again, to Washington, D.C. -- to remember, celebrate and honor his service in World War II.

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