Home News WWII vet hits the skies for his 100th birthday

WWII vet hits the skies for his 100th birthday

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A WWII Air Force veteran was able to celebrate his 100th birthday back in the sky thanks to a nonprofit that’s fulfilled the dreams of seniors for over two decades. 

Every month, Second Wind Dreams teams up with the Arkansas-based assisted living facility Elmcroft of Mountain Home in order to “give the residents an experience they can remember,” Katie Hammett, healthy lifestyles director for Elmcroft of Mountain Home, said. 

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 
(Elmcroft of Mountain Home, provided by Eclipse Senior Living)

This month, they gave Bob Cwiak a present he could have never imagined.  

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In celebration of his big day Monday, Cwiak was flown in a WWII biplane at the Baxter Regional Airport in Midway, Arkansas. 

The veteran told Fox News that he was “taken aback” by the 22-minute experience, saying it brought back memories of his days during WWII. 

It was his first time back in the sky since 1963. However, 1945 was the last time he flew bombardier for the U.S. Air Force while stationed in Spinazzola, Italy. The bombardier stood or knelt down at the nose of the plane and was in charge of releasing the bombs. 

Cwiak, who eventually became a 1st Lieutenant, and his crew mainly flew missions over Nazi-occupied central Europe. 

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“The acceleration of being back in the air was great…the wind in my hair,” Cwiak said of Monday’s flight. “I would like to be up there again.” 

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 
(Elmcroft of Mountain Home, provided by Eclipse Senior Living)

It’s a wish that Second Wind Dreams is prepared to grant him. 

The nonprofit “actually told him when he came down that since he is turning a century old, he gets to go up every year,” Hammett told Fox News. 

Hammett said the organization will come back “next year to take him up and every year after that.”

Lieutenant Robert J. Cwiak when he just returned home after WWII ended.

Lieutenant Robert J. Cwiak when he just returned home after WWII ended.
(Elmcroft of Mountain Home, provided by Eclipse Senior Living)

To shed light on the “positive aspects of aging” Second Wind Dreams has been making dreams come true since 1997. 

“It is a powerful way to connect society to a forgotten truth about seniors: the truth that age does not erase hopes and dreams,” the organization’s website reads. “As each Dream comes true, we witness a ripple effect as the impact of the dream spreads from the elder to everyone who helped make it a reality.”  

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 

Bob Cwiak taking flight for his birthday on Sept. 15, 2021 in Arkansas. 
(Elmcroft of Mountain Home, provided by Eclipse Senior Living)

Since its inception, the organization says its fulfilled “tens of thousands of dreams” for seniors. 

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