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Remains of man who died on a Last Frontier Honor Flight have been returned to the state

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 4:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When the Last Frontier Honor Flight left Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on April 26, it had 23 veterans and 23 guardians on board. But when the flight returned just a few days later, it was missing one member.

Army veteran Bill Lawler died on the plane enroute to Washington D.C., missing out on the chance to see the nation’s war memorials that were the purpose of the trip. The plane continued on to the nation’s capital, where the rest of their veterans “carried on their celebration in honor of Lawler,” Gray DC reported.

The Wasilla resident’s body was flown to Anchorage Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, a group of nearly 40 veterans on motorcycles turned out to receive his casket and escort the hearse that would deliver Lawler to the funeral home in Wasilla.

“We just do that to honor him and his family and give him the dignity that he deserves,” said Jeff Campbell, a member of the American Legion Riders, Post 35.

Campbell was also on the flight with Lawler, volunteering as a photographer for group. He said everyone seemed to hit it off the moment they met, including Lawler.

“Before we even left it was like we all had new friends, friends for life,” Campbell said. “So Mr. Lawler was having the time of his life, he was smiling the whole time. It’s just very tragic.”

Lawler’s niece, Cher Potts, described her uncle as a very social person who was excited about the trip. She also said he suffered from a number of serious health problems.

The family plans to bury Lawler in the Fort Richardson National Cemetery. Potts said details about a memorial service are still being worked out.

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