WESTMINSTER, MD — Jim Miller, 94, did not get to complete flight school when he served with the U.S. Air Force during World War II, but recently he flew in a single-engine biplane over Westminster for several minutes as part of Operation September Freedom.

The flight was coordinated by Dream Flights, a nonprofit organization established and dedicated to honoring seniors and military veterans.

“The wind was blowing the plane around a bit, but I felt carefree,” said Miller. “I would have paid for a chance to fly like that — I’ve always had a genuine love of flying.”

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The flight was one of more than 1,000 offered by Dream Flights across 300-some U.S. cities in a squadron of six restored World War II-era Boeing-Stearman biplanes during August and September especially to honor World War II veterans for their service.

Dream Flights calls their Operation September Freedom “the largest barnstorming event in U.S. history.” It is the organization’s first and only tour dedicated to honoring the men and women who fought in the Great War.

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Miller was offered the experience when Dream Flights contacted his retirement community, Carroll Lutheran Village. “I guess I’m one of the few World War II veterans remaining,” he said. “When they asked me if I would like to take the flight, I said, ‘Yes!’ I thought it might be the last chance I’d have to fly.”

Although Miller was training to become a pilot with the Air Force as an 18-year-old enlistee in 1945, flight schools across the country closed after the United States bombed Hiroshima, Japan, in August that year. He would eventually be stationed in the Philippines with a troop carrier squadron that shipped mail, supplies and soldiers from island to island.

After leaving the Air Force, Miller attended college in Pennsylvania on the GI Bill and became a physical education teacher, eventually settling in Baltimore County. He and his wife of 68 years, Virgie, have resided at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster since 2002.

“This was an experience I’ll always remember,” said Miller. “I had complete faith in my pilot, and when the flight was over, they let me put my initials on the tailfin and in the cockpit as a record of my part in this special event.”

Operation September Freedom launched Aug. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30 with several more flights scheduled in cities across the country over the next few weeks. Since the launch of Dream Flights in 2011, the nonprofit has given free flights to more than 4,200 veterans and seniors living in long-term care communities.

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