SARASOTA, FL - You may have seen or even heard them in the air recently here on the Suncoast. War birds apart of the Wings of Freedom Tour. The World War II era planes drawing crowds and provoking memories.
For WWII veterans like Dave Cohen it is quite the site. "I remember them all. Every single one of them."
A P-51, B-24, and B-17. "I get excited. Some of them make me cry too. It makes me feel bad we had to go through all of this."
Len Gumley was a pilot during the war. "It takes us back quite a ways. I was in for four years so I have a lot of memories."
Some of the veterans taking to the sky once again. "I would not miss this opportunity for all of the world. Some people back in Sarasota said to me that I was crazy for going up on those things again. That is the story of my life."
The planes are apart of the Collings Foundation. Ryan Keough with the not for profit says they're working to keep the machines and the memories intact. "The family members come out and stand next to dad or granddad or an uncle and they are hearing for the first time the stories or tidbits of what happened in World War II."
With each passing day those stories are harder to hear. World War II veterans are passing away in record numbers. Keough says they've lost a lot of the support from those who served. Now getting it from those who want to keep the story of their family members sacrifice alive. "What we are seeing is with every World War II veteran that passes there is usually two or three family members that feel it is more important for these aircraft and the stories to continue on."
A piece of history you can see in a book or on tv but something which seeing in person makes very real says Cohen. "People should always be able to see these and remember them. Consider what they went through."
The planes will be on the east side of the Sarasota Bradenton International airport before heading to Punta Gorda on Wednesday afternoon. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12.