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Raising funds for a "Return to Normandy"

Geneseo, N.Y. -- We left a whole lot of people there. I left several classmates there...

World War II veteran John McKay thinks of the all the friends and fellow soldiers he lost during his years in the war. McKay says he hopes to be able to make a trip to Normandy himself next year, during the 70th anniversary of D-Day, to honor the fallen men and women of WWII.

On Saturday, McKay was one of the hundreds of people attended a Chicken BBQ and Corn Roast at the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo.

Attendees were entertained with 1940s tunes by the Honeoye Falls Community Band. Some people also got the chance to fly in small warplanes.

The event was all an effort to raise money for the museums Return to Normandy campaign.

In the past few years, volunteers worked on restoring a C-47 troop carrier plane that once flew over Normandy on D-Day. After much hard work, the plane now looks as it once did in 1944.

The Whiskey 7 flew in 1944 on the D-day invasion, museum volunteer Sterlin Harris explained. She was the lead aircraft on the second wave dropping members of 82nd Airborne over St. Mere-Eglise, France. She is very rare and historic aircraft.

The museum wants to fly the plane to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day in June 2014. The plane is restored and ready to go, but the museum must raise money for fuel costs.

Harris explained that the plane uses about 100 gallons per hour and each gallon of airplane fuel costs, on average, $12 a gallon. The entire Return to Normandy trip is estimated to take about 80 hours.

If we get her [to Normandy], she will be the star of the whole show, Harris said.

Harris also believes this is a great way to honor the men and women who served in WWII, especially since there are fewer and fewer each year.

This mission honors the members of The Greatest Generation -- our WWII soldiers and veterans who served, Harris said. This is our way of trying to bring back what they did to the forefront of everyone's mind. We have that much more appreciation of the sacrifices they made so that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we have.

WWII veteran Charles Craigmile distinctly remembers working with the C-47s when he was stationed at an airbase in Guam during WWII.

That's a great plane that C-47, he recalled. We had one on Guam that we flew around. It's a war horse. It will [make the trip].

McKay agrees.

They just don't make them like that anymore, he said. Some of these airplanes were way a head of their time. In WWII, there were so many developments.

At Saturdays fundraising event, one person was also selected by raffle to win a free trip to Normandy to help welcome the Whiskey 7 during the D-Day anniversary events in France.

For more information on the Return to Normandy campaign, click here.

Angela Hong, 13WHAM-TV
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