CHICAGO (MCT) - A World War II veteran from Niles who was onboard the USS Missouri when Japan signed the Articles of Surrender helped celebrate the 69th anniversary of that event this week with the help of American Airlines.
On Thursday, Edwin Ogonowski, 89, returned from a five-day trip to Hawaii, where he participated in a celebration of V-J Day, marking the victory over Japan.
Ogonowski served as a gunner's mate from 1941 to 1945 and is among the last remaining seamen who served on the ship, officials said.
"By far one of the major highlights of my life was when I attended a ceremony at Pearl Harbor eight years ago," Ogonowski stated in a letter that he wrote to the airline in February.
"As I stood on the USS Missouri and took part in the commemoration, my heart pounded with joy in realization that we veterans, even those as old as I am and those who are no longer with us, are still remembered with great enthusiasm and admiration."
Ogonowski, a retired Chicago police officer who lives in an assisted living facility, asked that the airline help him make one last trip to Pearl Harbor. American Airlines complied, organizing the trip and inviting Navy and Chicago police representatives to participate in the fanfare, said Leslie Scott, airline spokeswoman.
On Sunday, he departed amid much fanfare, and his plane was given a water cannon salute, she said. Upon his return to O'Hare International Airport on Thursday, he was greeted by uniformed Navy sailors and provided a police escort out of the airport, she said.
"It was truly a joy to be able to fulfill Mr. Ogonowski's request," Scott said. "He deserved it."
Freelance reporter Susan Berger contributed.
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