98-year-old WWII pilot rediscovers his wings

MILLVILLE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Any photo you can find of Lt. Col. William Bonelli during World War II is black and white, but his memories are in color, and each detail is as loud as the engines of his old B-17.

"Let me point out I was too busy to be afraid or anything like that," he said.

"Dad still lives sometimes in 1944, 1945 when he flew that B-17," said his daughter Geralee Wood.

Bonelli last flew his beloved B-17 in 1945. That's also the last time he stepped foot in one.

"To be honest with you, I wanted to forget. That's all I can say," Bonelli said.

Whatever changed for Bonelli brought him to Millville Airport where the staff greeted him on Friday with a medal and gave him a tour of the military museum.

Outside, the airport has several restored military aircrafts, including a B-17.

"He just resisted, and resisted, and resisted, and all of a sudden, he changed and said he would do this," said Wood.

Bonelli toured the aircraft, inspecting every inch. Then, with his family, he climbed on board for his flight in about 75 years.

"To the American people, the most important thing I have to say is, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you. For your interest and your concern for your veterans, our veterans I should say,'" he said.
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