WWII Vet Celebrates Birthday by Air

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COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP -- A World War II veteran received quite a birthday gift Tuesday in Monroe County.

The last time Thomas McCaffrey was in a small plane, sitting close to the pilot was in World War II.

"It was overseas duty, involved a heavy bomber, B-24," said Thomas.

The decorated World War II veteran, who flew 38 missions in the central Pacific, was a gunman on the plane then. But 70 years later, this veteran got a special 90th birthday gift.  Thomas was back in a small plane, this time, with a different mission.

"Maybe these people can teach me how to fly," said Thomas.

Thomas turned 90 back in March.  His son set up the flying lesson at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport near Mount Pocono to celebrate the milestone.

"It's great.  It's a real heartwarming feeling to see dad have fun," said John.

The birthday gift began when Thomas, who grew up in Pottsville, got a lesson from the flight instructor about how the plane works.

Thomas says he was a little nervous because the last time he was in a small plane was in the early 1940's. But his nerves didn't stop this 90-year-old World War II veteran, who gladly boarded the plane and took off.

After a half hour flying lesson, the plane landed safely and Thomas was all smiles.

"Oh, it's great, very nice.  I like the landings best. I don't like the takeoffs too much," said Thomas.

Even after 38 successful missions in World War II.