RENTON, Wash.–

Every day, when Maury Marler looks out the window and watches planes come and go at the Renton Airport, he’s transported to a different time when he flew missions for Strategic Air Command throughout the Cold War.

“I look at them and I wish I were up there,” he said.

The 96-year-old was an Air Force navigator and retired after 30 years at the rank of Lt. Colonel.

“When I went to work in the morning, my wife never knew if she’d ever see me again or not,” he said.

With no desire to stop flying after the war, Marler got a new pilot’s license at the age of 91. Marler maintains a deep sense of patriotism and responsibility to his fellow servicemen.

“I think we owe them all a debt of gratitude,” he said. “I think we have a moral responsibility to do it.”

The former airman’s attitude is contagious. The Merrill Gardens retirement home in Renton, where Marler lives,  hopes to return many of their resident veterans to a bit of glory.

Staff members at the home are working with Puget Sound Honor Flight and are hoping to raise enough money to send a plane load of veterans to Washington DC for an all expense paid trip to visit U.S. war memorials, monuments, and museums.

The trip will cost about $36,000. The sad reality, however, is that for many of Marler’s fellow World War II veterans, time is running out. .

“Just here at Merrill Gardens, we’ve lost 11 veterans in the last year,” said Lilia Anderson, organizer of the fundraising. “There are 250 people on the wait list. There’s not time. It would be amazing to fill some planes and get the wait list down to zero.”

Marler would love to make the trip but is willing to decline his seat since he already saw those sights in his military days.

“That seat I would occupy would be better occupied by someone who has never been there,” he said. “It would make someone else happy. I think that’s important.”

The Merrill Gardens fundraiser is scheduled for July 11. For more information, email Anderson at liliaa@merrillgardens.com

Katrina Aman is an aspiring journalist who desires to be a person of positive influence. Particularly passionate about poverty alleviation and civil rights, she hopes her writing takes her where she can improve lives.