OAHU, HI (KITV) — Despite the pandemic, plans are still underway to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 2.
A program will take place on the USS Missouri where World War II-era planes will fly over O’ahu on August 29, 30th, and September 2.
On Wednesday KITV4’s Rick Quan had a chance to meet a sixth-grader who has a great appreciation for those who served.
He’s just 11-years-old, but Zach Bittner has a deep respect for those veterans who flew and fought for the allies in World War II.
“Our family has a long tradition of aviators in World War II history because my great-grandpa used to fly P40s from the U.S. to Canada to fight in the war,” Bittner said. “My mom told me the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum had a page on the website and I searched up their website and found they had all these World War II videos so I watched all the videos and they had a lot of cool videos about the history and the planes and the battles and I was fascinated about the history.”
Bittner’s dad is a Navy officer at Pearl Harbor and told him several vintage planes like the PBY Catalina pictured here had arrived for the 75th commemoration of WWII. His family got a chance to watch one of those planes take off earlier this week, but Bittner wanted to see one up close.
Thanks to the 75th commemoration committee, he got to go inside a PBY, one of the most versatile and important planes of WWII.
“It’s really cool, this is truly a once in a lifetime experience, not many people get to do this,” Bittner said.
The plane’s owner is Coy Pfaff of Eugene, Oregon.
“After my time in the Marine Corps, I was driving around the world and was talking to my grandfather about the vintage aircraft and he said he always wanted a PBY. So I found this one for him in France and we made a deal and flew it back over to Oregon last year,” Pfaff said.
When the Japanese attacked Hawai’i on December 7, 1941, thirty of these planes were destroyed.
“This being a seaplane and especially here with Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay played a huge part in 1941 and after. So this aircraft actually right now is painted like BP14 which was one of the squadrons up at Kaneohe Bay after the attack,” Pfaff said.
During the war, this PBY patrolled the North Atlantic and in 1944 sank a German U-boat with a depth bomb.
When asked why Bittner has so much respect for veterans from WWII he answers, “Because they went through so much back then and they lost so many of their friends and today we’re free because of them, we would all probably be speaking German if it wasn’t for them. So yeah, they just sacrificed for us to be living here today so we have to honor and respect them because they died for us,” Bittner said.
As you might expect, Bittner wants to be an Air Force pilot one day, but for now, he’s happy just learning about those who went before him.
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