American Airlines To Fly WWII Veterans For 80th D-Day Anniversary


American Airlines will fly 70 World War II veterans to France for the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944. A special charter flight will carry the veterans to Europe on May 31, in honor of their “service and sacrifice,” said an American statement.

David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer—and a U.S. Army veteran himself—said, “This special journey is not only an expression of our gratitude for these heroes and the sacrifices they made for our freedom, but we hope to help shine a light on their extraordinary stories and preserve their legacies for generations to come. We’re honored to play a part in helping this group of heroic veterans return to Normandy.”

Among those of the “Greatest Generation” making the trip will be U.S. Navy veteran Felix Maurizio, who operated one of the landing craft that hit the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Among the troops he delivered onshore was his brother, Sal. Also aboard the charter flight will be Army Air Forces veteran Frank Perry, who manned a gun turret on bombers over Europe in 1945.

The contingent will spend two days in Paris before the journey to the Normandy coast for a sequence of commemorative events, including visits to historic sites and special ceremonies to honor “the courage and sacrifice of all who served during World War II,” according to the American statement. The final stop of the tour will be the Normandy American Cemetery, where more than 9,000 U.S. service members are interred.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Good to see an airline stepping up for our veterans. My uncle was a paratrooper in the 82nd airborne in WW2. He landed in the swamp outside Sainte-Mère-Église on D-day. He was one of the lucky ones, he came home after the war, raised a big family and lived the American dream.
    Our veterans deserve our respect and admiration, we all owe them big time.

  2. We are the bulwark of freedom and decency on this planet today. My father fought the forces of tyrrany in Russia and Germany at this time to secure freedom for his homeland Estonia. How I wish I could hear and understand the many stories he told when I was a child. It is too late but not for us to remember the sacrifices everyone made to secure a free future for everyone. What a grand gesture to send these honourable soldiers to commemorate something which most of us would dearly love to avoid. They truly represent the enormous effort of nations who value the life we live today and I’m sure their hope will never be extinguished.

  3. I am a post (WW2), 1952 born, EU kid. Picked up those stories at a young age, it was all very fresh. That time lots of ammo everywhere where we played with slim spaghetti like sticks from all kinds of explosives, I remember, we set fire to those sticks one by one, ferociously igniting and burning. Nobody considered it dangerously that time.
    Still WW2 is like a brick wall. Life is about before or after the war.
    Any time we met American or Canadian people in the fifties and sixties, which at those times wasn’t as common as today, they were looked upon as heroes.
    Although the younger generations slowly are “forgetting”, but in general, everybody knows the ultimate sacrifice many foreign young boys gave to help recoup our freedom. The many WW2 soldier cemeteries are taken care of very well.
    We live together peacefully with the Germans, I am always happy there when visiting Germany. Many Germans visit our country, own property or boats here as we have an enormous coast line, which they haven’t.
    A few older people still carry hate, but my generation interacts normally with the post war generation in Germany. There is no country like theirs that teaches in school so honestly the terrible role the nazis played. Open Swastika signs will sure get You into trouble with police in no time.
    By having experienced a war on our own turf, we have a worrying look at the developments in the east. Not again……..

  4. Maybe I ll run into these guys… my second trip to Normandy and I leave on AA also. I ll be at the American Cemetery on the 6th also by invitation and having been there before for the 75th it will be an emotional week. When you study the invasion and the planning and all that went into it, even though not perfectly executed, it was monumental, accomplished by histories best people determined to bring peace and freedom to this world.

  5. I operated tours from the UK to Normandy in 1984, for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, when most veterans were in their 60s, and I was in my 20s. It was a real education. Of the many visible reminders still there, the American cemetery is the most moving. Thousands of pristine white headstones laid out with military precision over 170 acres. The scale of sacrifice is obvious, and sobering. This must surely be the last big anniversary for any surviving servicemen. Honor the heroes and remember what they fought for. It certainly feels like the lesson of history is that no one learns from the lesson of history. Kudos to American Airlines.

  6. My Dad was a bombardier/navigator/nose gunner on a B-26 stationed in England during the war. On D-day his squadron was assigned to fly over the beaches of Normandy and drop bombs on the sand to create “foxholes” for the landing troops. He said it was an amazing mission to see the landing craft heading for the beach as they made their run. As soon as he dropped their bombs, he grabbed the nose machine gun and fired at anyone he could see on the German defenses. He, and several of his squadron mates, attended the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1994. It was an interesting perspective since he had only seen it from the air before. The thing that amazed him the most was the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc where the infantry scaled the cliffs facing down fierce resistance. “Those guys had to be crazy!” he said afterward. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago. Thank you to American Airlines for bringing the few remaining service members for probably the final commemoration.