Though Abe Schamis is 94 years old, all of his World War II memories are still vivid, like the colors on the 1940's post cards he keeps as new.
“It’s exactly what I remember growing up,” said his son, Jeffrey.
Schamis was drafted in 1941, and became a navigator in the Air Corps.
He went through ten missions without a problem. It was on his 11th that an engine on his B-17 was hit in Italy.
“As we were coming back, two more engines gave out in sympathy,” Schamis said.
Schamis bailed out of the falling plane and landed in a tree. The fall permanently hurt his right hand.
As a Jewish American, once he was found, he was sent to a prison camp. It’s where he would spend the next six months.
“When I was released, I wore a 28 waist,” Schamis said. “I think I was born with a 28 waist!”
Sixty-seven years after his release, Schamis still had one wish. He’d like to see the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The Freedom Pavilion features the same planes he used to fly in the war.
“The B-17, to me, is the best plane ever built,” Schamis said.
That's where "Wish of a Lifetime" comes in. This foundation started by Olympian Jeremy Bloom grants life-long wishes to exceptional seniors.
The paperwork was sent in September and by December, the Schamis family received a holiday surprise.
“We're just so grateful that he’s able, at 94, to do these types of experiences,” Jeffrey Schamis said.
“I'm going to enjoy seeing it through his eyes,” he added.
Despite all he had to endure, Schamis stops short of calling himself a hero.
“I'm not a hero,” Schamis said. “I just followed instructions and that's all.”
He and his son will leave to New Orleans on February 16th.
Schamis will be at the Boca Raton Airport on February 1st, when the B-17’s and B-24’s are on display. He’ll be talking about the planes and sharing his experiences.