Local vet's final wish takes to the skies
LEWISTON, ID- 88 year old Wallace Williams was diagnosed with mesothelioma a year ago. He's been on hospice care for months now, waiting for his final days with his family. But before he leaves, the retired airman was granted his last wish: to fly one last time.
"Dad recently went into hospice care and at that time they asked if he had a wish," says Verna Soyk, Wallace's daughter. "He was actually told that without treatment, he probably wouldn't make it six months."
But one year later, Wallace is still here. His final wish came true Friday.
"That was on my bucket list to fly one more time," he says.
Friends called local pilot Gary Peters out of Hangar 180 at the Lewiston Airport. Peters gladly stepped up to the mission.
"That's one of our main missions as Hangar 180 is to honor veterans and include them and let them know how special they are. And that they'll never be forgotten."
Wallace served in the armed forces for 13 years. He quit school at 16 and joined the US Air Force with his two twin uncles.
"I made World War II vet with all the goodies by two days. Never seen any action of course," he says.
He helped clean up Guan after the war, and was stationed in Panama, California, Washington, Alaska and Texas.
When he joined the Air Force, Wallace learned to fly in Orofino on the GI Bill.
"Some people dream about being a cop, some people dream about flying. And I had no desire to be a cop. You're just in a different world. I don't know, it's hard to explain."
Wallace and Peters flew to Orofino to see the place he learned to fly from the skies. The whole time, smiling and waving to the town of 3,000 below. Taking it all in, knowing it might be the last time he would ever see the land from above.
"I haven't seen him smile this much in months, literal months. And today, many times I caught him just big honest smiles," says Linda Bowling, another daughter.
Wallace the entire time, enjoying crossing off the last item on his bucket list with some jokes along the way.
"If I had 10 to 15 hours in it then I would have liked to have done some stunts but I didn't get nerves up enough," he says.
"We were giggling, joking the whole time there and the whole time home and I'm not sure who had more fun today, him or me," adds Peters.
Wallace's five daughters, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren don't know how much time he has left.
"He outlived what the doctor said and he's still going pretty strong. But there's no guarantee of tomorrow," says Soyk.
But as they watch their dad fly off into the sunset doing what he loves, only one word: joy.
At the end of his flight, Wallace says he might have another one in him if he can, and maybe this time he can do some tricks. But now that his final wish has been granted, he told his daughters, "Well, now I can go."