Vets balloon

World War II veteran Jim Holdcroft and Korean and Vietnam Wars veteran Sam Crownover were all smiles after landing in a hot air balloon.

KEITHVILLE La -- Two veterans in their 90's -- one who landed on D-Day in World War II, the other a Bronze Star recipient from the Korean and Vietnam wars -- knocked something off their bucket lists. That was thanks to a great organization and some local volunteers.

"Something I always wanted to do," 95 year old WWII vet Jim Holdcroft said as he watched a crew air up the hot air balloon he'd soon climb aboard.

"It's been on my list," the other veteran, Sam Crownover, 92, said. "So many times. And now it's time to go."

They lifted off from Bluebird Hill Airport to a cloudless morning sky, thanks to balloonist Pat Harwell and his crew with "American Escapes."

"Took me about half a second to say yes," Harwell said of the request to fly the vets. "It's amazing to think what those guys went through so I get to go play. Basically, they're the ones that bought my freedom.

"You have to be moved when you think of what these people did," Harwell went on to say. "And all the other folks that are in our society that are in the military that don't get paid a lot and sometimes have to pay the ultimate price."

Another group who made the flight possible is My Jump, founded by Webb Weiman. He told us, "We are celebrating eight years of being able to fulfill bucket list wishes for seniors across the country.

"We do it because I experienced my father after my mother died, living in isolation. And I wanted to show him that there's life beyond the rocking chair," Weiman went on to say. "And we've kind of used that as our driving force in our goal to help seniors fulfill their dreams, and guide them from the darkness to the light."

They drifted along with a companion balloon for a few miles before setting down on Meadowlake Golf Course.

"Heck of an honor. Heck of an honor," Harwell said of flying the men, adding that his father was a World War II veteran who fought in Europe.

"I'm about to cry!" he added with a laugh through wet eyes.

"It was a nice ride. I didn't have to use my parachute," Crownover joked after the landing.

"Can't beat it," Holdcroft said. "Hard to believe. Never thought I would ever do this though."

In addition to Harwell and his crew, as well as the "My Jump" organization, the Shreveport Sports Commission and the Bossier Council on Aging also had a hand in the adventure.

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