SOUTHINGTON - Walter Hushak, a 94-year-old World War II veteran who flew at Iwo Jima, is helping to bring planes from the era to the Waterbury-Oxford Airport Sept. 8 to 10, hoping to educate people about the history of the war.
Hushak flew a B-24 bomber in the Pacific as part of the 30th Bomb Group, 27th Bomb Squad that fought in Iwo Jima. For years, he has been working to keep that history alive, presenting before students at local schools and diligently appearing at Veterans Day and Memorial Day events.
“I go into the schools and I ask people what the most important subject is,” he said. “Some people will say math, others science, but history is the only subject that tells us where we come from, how we got here and maybe where we’re going. I tell students about the memorials on the town green and how many people from Southington fought in our wars.”
Hushak said he used to speak at schools as part of a group of eight or nine local World War II veterans. He is the last remaining member of that group.
“I’ve lived in Southington all my life and when I go to the grocery store I often have people come up to me and say that they remember me speaking at their school,” he said. “It is very rewarding.”
Sept. 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. and Sept. 9 and 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hushak will be bringing a B-25 Mitchell, a B-17 Flying Fortress, a B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang to 300 Christian St., Oxford as part of The Collings Foundation’s “Wings of Freedom Tour.” The Collings Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation which organizes living history events.
Visitors will be able to pay to tour the planes, fly in them and be trained to fly them themselves.
Walk-thru tours will be $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. A 30-minute B-17 or B-24 flight costs $450 per person. P-51 flight training is $2,200 for a half-hour and $3,200 for a full hour.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.