Bryson WWII Vet goes on honor flight to D.C.
Bryson City’s Jonathan Molinatto has been through Washington, D.C. multiple times, but it’s this latest time that stands out.
Molinatto is a veteran who fought in World War II and recently went on a flight with Asheville-based Blue Ridge Honor Flight from Asheville to Reagan National Airport.
“I had no idea about it,” he said. “I learned from our daughter that she was making this an anniversary and birthday present combined to me.”
His daughter Deborah was his guardian on the trip.
“She was very excited to be able to do it for us and, of course, I had never been in any celebration like this."
While the day was long, Molinatto said he loved the whole trip.
“I spent the time going around to the different memorials of the different wars. Of World War II, there was only about 17 of us vets,” he said. “The major point of the trip was World War II vets because they’re thinning out now. They’re not as plentiful.”
Molinatto, 94, was drafted from Warren, Ohio and eventually went to Oklahoma for his basic training. Then went to Fort Meade in Maryland, and from there he made a seven-day trip to England.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Molinatto was in England, at a camp cleaning up cigarette butts. Over a loud speaker, he heard about the invasion at Normandy. One month later he landed in northern France. He joined a regiment that lost one soldier. Molinatto’s tour of duty in World War II was two years and three months. He was able to return home unscathed.
One thing Molinatto was grateful for was the large volume of mail he received regarding the Washington trip.
According to the website for the Asheville organization, Blue Ridge Honor Flight started in 2004 when Earl Morse was working as a physician’s assistant in Ohio. He started asking his older patients if they planned to go to the World War II memorial in Washington. He was a retired Air Force captain and private pilot, he started flying and escorting World War II veterans personally to the memorial. Other pilots were later recruited.
Then in 2005, Jeff Miller, who owned a business in Hendersonville at the time, had the idea to charter a commercial plane to Washington.