SAN DIEGO – A local World War II veteran who flew to Washington as part of an Honor Flight collapsed and died during the return trip to San Diego, the organization that organized the flight said.
"The fella who caught my dad came up to me and said, 'listen, your dad, within 5 seconds of having him in my arms was gone,'” said Bruce Manchel, the veteran's son.
Frank Manchel, 95, was accompanied by his son, Bruce, on the trip organized by Honor Flight San Diego. On Sunday, he boarded the flight home from Baltimore Washington International Airport to San Diego after spending the weekend in Washington, D.C. During the flight, Manchel collapsed. Others on the flight tried to resuscitate Manchel, but he was pronounced dead.
Bruce told FOX5 thatbBefore the plane landed his father was placed next to him on the flight. Before the other veterans on board deplaned, each one of them stopped in front of his dad.
"They were all saluting him as they went by," Bruce said. "It was beautiful."
Manchel was a sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Bruce Manchel said the Honor Flight was an amazing last experience for his father.
"Frank Manchel was so excited to go on his Honor Flight. This trip was so special because he was able to be with both of his sons as well as his 93-year-old brother who met him in Washington, D.C.," the son said in a written statement. "My father’s passing was the ending to the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends. We thank all of you – Honor Flight San Diego, American Airlines, San Diego International Airport, friends, and supporters for your concern and for allowing the weekend to be so special for all of us to share together."
Manchel's body was draped in an American flag that organizers bring on every Honor Flight. As he was brought off the plane, he was saluted by medical, firefighter and law enforcement personnel at Lindbergh Field.