Two veterans die before going on Kern County Honor Flight

In less than a week, more than 90 WWII veterans will take off for Washington, D.C. on Kern County's second Honor Flight. But, the flight will be without two men, who were eager to go, but died just weeks before the trip.

In less than a week, more than 90 WWII veterans will take off for Washington, D.C. on Kern County's second Honor Flight. But, the flight will be without two men, who were eager to go, but died just weeks before the trip.

A funeral service was held for one of them Friday.

It was a somber day at Bakersfield National Cemetery Friday as family and friends said goodbye to WWII veteran George Kates.

"That generation never thought about how they deserved anything, but we felt he deserved it," said Kathe Davis, Kates' daughter.

Three months prior to the flight, the 90-year-old began to feel ill so he visited the doctor.

"The doctor said 'George, if it's on your bucket list and if you don't care what happens, if it speeds up your death then that's your decision'," said Davis. "And, my dad said 'I want to go'."

Kates' family said the trip was what kept him going.

"My dad didn't have a lot to look forward to and that was something he was," said Davis.

Kates enlisted in the Army in 1941 and served four years in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

"He had lost his older brother at the Battle of the Bulge, and his brother is buried overseas in France," said Davis. "There was never really a place for him to go to."

The World War II memorials was the place he wanted to go to remember his brother. But, about a month before the trip his family realized the 90-year-old wouldn't make it.

"Mentally he was prepared to go, but his body just was failing him," said Davis. "So, it became apparent to me that he wasn't going to be able to go, and we just didn't discuss it again because it was too hard."

Kates died October 27th. "He would have loved to have gone," said Warren Davis, Kates' son-in-law. "It was a piece of his unfinished business."

On Friday, soldiers gave a military salute to honor Kates for his service and also to remind the community if we don't send our veterans now, someday it will be too late.

The other veteran that passed away was John Wilson.

Honor Flight has filled both their spots. It's set to take off on Tuesday.

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