Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

WWII Vet Dies Enroute Home To San Diego From Honor Flight

World War II Veteran Frank Manchel on his Honor Flight in this undated photo.

Credit: Honor Flight San Diego

Above: World War II Veteran Frank Manchel on his Honor Flight in this undated photo.

A World War II veteran died Sunday while on an Honor Flight trip returning from the nation’s capital to San Diego, the organization that arranged the flight announced Monday.

Frank Manchel, 95, collapsed on a flight from Baltimore to San Diego after spending the weekend in Washington, D.C., Honor Flight San Diego said. Manchel died despite attempts onboard to revive him, the organization said.

Manchel was in Washington, D.C. as part of Honor Flight San Diego, an organization that takes WWII vets on trips to the capital to see the memorials dedicated to their service.

Bruce Manchel, Frank’s son, was on the trip with him and said his father was excited to go on the trip.

“This trip was so special because he was able to be with both of his sons as well as his 93-year-old brother who met him in Washington, D.C,” the younger Manchel said. “My father’s passing was the ending to the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends.”

Bruce Manchel said his father is now “with his other beloved son Jimmy.”

Frank Manchel’s body was wrapped in the flag, which Honor Flight San Diego carries on every trip, after his death. Two chaplains who were on the flight as guardians said prayers for Manchel.

Former San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman, who was on the flight as a guardian for another veteran, helped with the protocol as his body was escorted off the plane to the salute of medical personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officials, Honor Flight San Diego said.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Manchel family,” Honor Flight San Diego chairwoman Julie Brightwell said. “It was our privilege to honor this true American hero during his final hours.”

American Airlines, which flew Manchel from Baltimore to San Diego, has offered to fly this body and his family members to his final resting place in Michigan at no cost.

Founded in 2010, Honor Flight San Diego has flown more than 1,400 veterans to Washington, D.C. The veterans are required to complete medical questionnaires and, if needed, get a doctor’s approval before their flights.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.