SAN ANTONIO – At 97 years old, World War II veteran Jerry Auerbach may not do simple things.
”I don’t ride a bike anymore,” Auerbach said. But he can fly a World War II vintage T-6 Texan two-place advance trainer after not being in one for almost 80 years.
”I knew where a lot of things were in the airplane,” Auerbach said.
Auerbach got to take to the skies in one of the planes he trained in during World War II on Saturday at Stinson Airport thanks to the Commemorative Air Force, a non-profit that serves veterans and educates the public on World War II military aviation history.
”Every year we lose more and more. These may be some of our last chances to really say thank you to the greatest generation that really helped us live our lives the way we’re living our lives. So proud of them,” said Darren Bond, the leader of the San Antonio Commemorative Air Force.
Auerbach enlisted at 18 years old and joined the Army Air Corps during World War II.
He flew about 20 combat missions over Japan.
Afterward, he joined the Air Force where he got his pilot license and made more than 200 cargo trips in Germany.
Auerbach’s son, Tony, says flying has always had a special place in his heart and mind.
“You know it’s funny how his short-term memory is bad but he can still tell you everything about every airplane he has ever flown,” Tony Auerbach said. “He knows his airplanes backward and forward. I’m sure it will bring back memories. He’ll feel right at home.”
During those 30 minutes in the air, he did feel back at home.
“He let me fly it a little bit,” Auerbach said. Auerbach’s co-pilot said he did great.
As soon as he was back on the ground, he was ready to hit the skies one more time.
“Pretty good…let’s do it again,” Auerbach said.