Wings of Freedom

By | July 15, 2013
Rudy Liebsack and his son Steve

Rudy Liebsack (right), and his son Steve


The B24 in which Rudy flew 30 missions during WWII and the Plane Rudy, at age 94, and his son flew in July 2013

Primrose family

Some of the Primrose family viewing the planes and cheering for Rudy

Rudy and Vi Switzer

Rudy reflecting on and remembering scenes from the World War II era, here pictured with fellow Primrose resident, Vi Switzer

Grand Island, Nebraska, Retirement Communities

I am honored to serve this group of people at Primrose Retirement Community here in Grand Island, Nebraska. This generation that we are currently serving is often referred to as ”the greatest generation.” I would agree. They have seen so many changes in their lifetime, are so appreciative of everything they have and what is done for them and have served our country so unselfishly.

What a neat experience we had recently when two of our residents, Veterans of WWII, were able to fly in a restored WWII airplane as part of the “Wings of Freedom” event at the airport here in Grand Island. Those two residents were Al Panowicz and Rudy Liebsack. Al flew a B17 one day, when at the spur of the moment a member of the community paid the money to allow a WWII veteran a chance to go up in one of these planes. Al was chosen as that veteran. We felt bad we weren’t able to get pictures of that spur-of-the-moment event.

Rudy flew the next day as a gift from his family. We knew about this ahead of time and made special arrangements to support him in his flight. You see, he had actually flown in one of these airplanes 70+ years ago. In fact, the B24 was the only plane he flew in, flying 30 missions over the Pacific during WWII. Once again, at the age of 94, Rudy boarded a B24 — in a much better situation, getting to fly “for fun” with his son — for a half hour flight over Grand Island and the surrounding area.

Rudy served in the U.S. Air Force, as a Combat Engineer, from April 1941-November 1945. What a celebrity Rudy was on the tarmac at the Grand Island airport, dressed in his red Hero Flight shirt and WWII Veteran cap walking around the planes, talking openly of his experiences and expertise from years gone by. Several younger spectators followed him and even videotaped what he was saying. As they expressed, “We just read about this in history books. He lived it. And, this generation will soon be gone and with that we’ll lose their expertise.”

What an experience and a reminder that we live in the greatest country in the world and…freedom is NOT free. I am proud of these brave men and women who have served and continue serving today.

Because we’re like a “family” here at Primrose, we took a van-load of residents to the airport to view these planes and cheer Rudy on. What fun and a proud moment for all of us!

Yes, I am proud and honored to serve these special people, people like Al and Rudy, here at Primrose as their Life Enrichment Coordinator. They enrich my life much more than I enrich theirs. They ARE a great generation!

by Carrie Barber
Life Enrichment Coordinator

To find out more about the greatest generation living at Primrose, please contact your nearest Primrose Retirement Community today to see more of our fun and social living. We’ll happily answer all your questions and show you around our beautiful communities. Come see why we say, THIS IS LIVING!


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