WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Thomas Joseph McCaffrey was a ball turret gunner with the 7th Army Air Corps (Pacific arena) in a B24 during World War II.
He flew 43 bombing missions and received a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Screaming Eagle.
Prior to his military service, he was a coal miner in Wilkes-Barre.
On Thursday, McCaffrey, 95, traveled from Pottsville to see his president, Donald Trump.
It was the first time McCaffrey had ever seen an American president deliver a speech in person. As he sat in the stands at the Mohegan Sun Arena with more than 10,000 other Trump supporters, McCaffrey smiled and chanted, “USA, USA, USA” when the crowd welcomed Trump.
McCaffrey sat with his son, John, and daughter-in-law, Lisa, as he listened to Trump talk about his country, his military and his love for veterans.
”My father would love to meet President Trump as he supports his whole agenda,” John said. “Under the Obama Administration, he did not identify with any of Obama’s policies and said ‘this is not the country I fought for with this president.’ However, now that Trump is president, he is proud of the country for which he fought and would love to shake Trump’s hand.”
McCaffrey’s son said his father loved Trump’s comments about veterans’ health care and building a strong military.
“He said he hasn’t felt that much patriotism since the end of World War II,” John said. “He chanted along with the crowd. He was really happy to witness the event.”
John said the plane his father flew on was called “Secrut Weapon” (actual spelling).
“He will never forget this experience,” John said.
When the McCaffreys first arrived, they were taken to an area where they were seated right next to a man dressed as Santa Claus.
“Getting to see the president was like an early Christmas present for him,” John said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.