Veteran forced to cancel D.C. trip, honored by Honor Flight

Robert Claypool (Courtesy: WANE)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- A dying veteran wanted to check one last thing off his bucket list: a trip with Honor Flight. Robert Claypool, a 25-year Air Force Veteran, enlisted in 1943. He served in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and Vietnam.

“I love my country,” he said. “The flag…I stand up for it. I’d bend on a knee for it.”

The Master Sergeant flew a Boeing B-17 and said he served as a radio operator and gunner. He later spent 17 years in the Office of Special Investigations. For him a trip to the nation’s Capitol would have been the trip of a lifetime.

“I wanted to see the memorials of so many friends that I had,” said Claypool.

Honor Flight Northeast Indiana, an organization that sends veterans to Washington D.C. to see the national war memorials. The 91-year-old had just signed off on the paperwork when he learned he might not have much time. Claypool was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and his doctors only gave him a short time to live. The next Honor Flight trip would leave Fort Wayne in April.

“Signed the paper application about two days before this jolt hit me,” said Claypool.

Instead of a flight Claypool’s family, along with Bethlehem Woods Nursing home and Honor flight, helped organize a celebration in honor of Claypool’s dedication to this country. They gave him an Honor Flight shirt along with a flag that came from the Arlington Cemetery in D.C.

“Well I was quite surprised by all the hullabaloo,” said Claypool.

A good surprise Claypool said. Another memory he said he will cherish along with those from his many years in the service.

“He’s just been very proud of his service and proud of his career,” said Karen Claypool, his daughter. “Even though that’s not a possibility now this somewhat brought that opportunity to him.”

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