Nostalgia for World War II vet as B-17 visits Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Nostalgia for World War II vet as B-17 visits Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A B-17 bomber making a nationwide tour will call Waterloo home for the weekend.

As the flight made its arrival, a familiar face was on hand.

Cleon Wood was honored last month with the French Legion of Honor medal for putting his life on the line nearly 70 years ago for the liberation of France.

Wood flew 31 missions on the B-17 during World War II.

It was an experience he'd hoped to share with his son, but low clouds kept the Experimental Aircraft Association's Aluminum Overcast on the ground.

"I wanted him to fly up there in the cockpit area where the top turret is, where I spent all my hours. It was disappointing,” said Wood. "The weather wasn't cooperating."

When walking through the B-17, you get a little bit of an idea of what Cleon Wood went through.

The aircraft is cramped and wasn't exactly built for comfort. On top of that, flying through a war zone 31 times made it much more uncomfortable.

"I said a prayer every day when we left on a mission that God would bring me safely back, and he always did," Wood said.

It's stories like this that Scott Hartwig loves the most. He's been flying the EAA's B-17 for the past 3 years.

"The fewer and fewer remaining veterans that experienced this airplane during World War II are always a joy to meet and listen to,” said Hartwig.

While Wood didn't get to fly with his son on Thursday, he did get to share that experience with a great grandson when the Aluminum Overcast visited last year.

"I didn't know whether they'd agree somebody that young to go on a flight and everything, but they said, 'Oh sure, by all means!'" he said.

The B-17 will remain at Livingston Aviation until Sunday, and enthusiasts can purchase flights and ground tours of the aircraft.

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