Roderick “Buddy” Fernandez, a Franciscan Villa Assisted Living resident and World War II veteran, boarded the “Stearman” biplane. 

He was there because of Franciscan Villa Assisted Living, owned and operated by the Diakonos Group. Each of the company’s facilities are affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs and accept veterans.

Fernandez was chosen to be honored on this Dream Flight, a part of the Operation September Freedom program which has become part of a nationwide effort to honor American World War II veterans. He arrived at Christiansen Aviation at Richard Jones Airport on Sept. 15. 

“Their mission is to honor as many veterans as possible with a Dream Flight using six restored Boeing Stearman biplanes, the same aircraft used to train aviators during World War II,” Spring Morrow, director of sales and marketing at Diakonos Group, said the morning of the flight.

“Giving back to those who gave is their mission,” Morrow said. “We are so proud and honored that Buddy will be participating in the Dream Flight this morning.”

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