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92-Year-Old WWII Pilot One Of Many Reasons To Pay Tribute On Veterans Day

STOW (CBS) - The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Veterans Day is one of the country's most patriotic days, a federal holiday that was originally called Armistice Day, to mark the cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I.

Last month, the Collings Foundation, which promotes aviation history, saluted a special group of veterans who are members of the Greatest Generation at the annual "Battle for the Airfield" at the Minute Man Airfield in Stow.

The 1940's hit "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was playing on the loud speakers. Vintage planes were on display in the airport hangar while other planes were on the runway available for rides to the public.

World War II Plane
One of the planes at the Collings Foundation's "Battle of the Airfield" at Minuteman Airfield in Stow. (Photo credit: Mary Blake - WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

Harry Kramer, 92, of Morristown, New Jersey, was a guest speaker at the event. He was a Captain in the Army Air Corps during World War II and knew at a very young age that he wanted to fly.

"At age 5, believe it or not, I was standing there holding a model. Now any normal kid would have either a car or a truck. I had an airplane. My mother said that was an omen," he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Kramer trained for his pilot license at the age of 16.

"You had to be 17 before you got a driver's license, so my mother would drive me out to the airport and I'd fly for an hour and then come back," he said.

Kramer got his wings at Luke Air Base in Arizona in May of 1944 and started flying a B-25.

"It was very maneuverable on the ground because you could dive down and it wouldn't, if you leveled off, it wouldn't sink, you know," he recalled.

World War II Plane
One of the planes at the Collings Foundation's "Battle of the Airfield" at Minuteman Airfield in Stow. (Photo credit: Mary Blake - WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

Kramer flew 31 missions during World War II, most of them in the Philippines.

"It was kind of strange, because what I wanted to do was fly and the world was secondary to me at that time, but of course it became very plain that we were fighting for our lives, but I was lucky. I never got hit. Our plane came back looking like a sieve sometimes, because of the fire power they had," he said.

Kramer remembered the missions.

"We went over about 50-to-100 feet in the air, and actually just sprayed everything we could spray, and then when we got close, we'd drop the bombs."

When he got out of the service, Kramer got busy making a living, as he put it, and didn't talk about the war.

"No, in fact it's funny, all through college and work, hardly did I talk about the war. It's just recently where all of this has been ginned up, you know, and it sort of started with the Collings Foundation, when the planes would come in to Morristown, we'd go over and look at them. They'd never had the B-25 until this year, and that was great," he said.

His civilian career was in the oil business. Married for 66 years, he never lost his love of flying.

"It is so relaxing. All you have to do is go up in the air, and all your worries fall away. It's really, a really good feeling," Kramer said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports


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