GEICO-backed pilots drop roses over WWII cemetery to mark 75 years after war's end

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GEICO-backed pilots drop roses over WWII cemetery to mark 75 years after war's end

Pilots drop roses over veterans' cemetery to mark 75th anniversary of the end of WWIIFox News reporter Nick Givas joined a squadron of GEICO Skywri

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Fox News was invited by a team of aviators to ride in a vintage WWII airplane on Wednesday as it dropped roses over a cemetery in New York to commemorate 75 years after the war’s end.

The roses symbolized the peace that followed after Japan surrendered to the Allies on Aug. 15, 1945. The country’s submission marked the end of an unprecedented global struggle that cost millions of lives and rewrote history in the process.

The planes, built around 1940-1941, were called “The T6” by the Army Air Corps and were alternatively known as “pilotmakers” because of how many young fliers earned their wings while training on them. They’ve been fully restored and specially equipped to skywrite and to carry out missions such as this one by the GEICO-backed Skytypers.

The aircraft went as fast as 180 mph as they soared over veterans’ gravestones below, above Long Island National Cemetery.

The squadron of SNJ-2 planes was led by former Naval aviator Mark “Gooch” Gannucci, who’s been flying professionally for almost 30 years and who serves as a major airline pilot. He is also a volunteer pilot at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach.

Mark "Gooch" Gannucci, a former Navy aviator, led the squadron of planes as Fox News took a ride.

Mark “Gooch” Gannucci, a former Navy aviator, led the squadron of planes as Fox News took a ride.

Gooch spoke about how much of an effect World War II made on the future of flying, as many of the tactics and styles used back then are still in use today.

U.S. AIR FORCE: THE HISTORY OF THE MILITARY BRANCH

“It was a very beautiful cemetery,” he told Fox News following the flight. “It’s the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, the victory over Japan. What’s interesting is, the tactics, maneuvers and formations that we do now were taught in WWII. We still use them in the modern Navy and Air Force  Every nation that has an armed Air Force uses the same tactics that we experienced today.”

When asked what his favorite part of flying was he said, “The freedom it provides and presenting the awesome traits of aviation like we got to do today — to share these incredible airplanes from WWII history with the public.”

Gooch, who was selected to fly the F-14 Tomcat and had served in Bosnia, said he tended to pray before going up in the air due to the risks involved but added that the danger was just part of the job.

“[I pray before flying] every time, every time,” he said, “because I know there are so many people who have lost their lives doing what we do. And, it can happen at any time so I like to be prepared as we go. I pray for the safety of all our teammates, then we go do our thing, come back — do it again the next day.”

He advised any aspiring pilots to trust the older authority figures in their lives and to chase their dreams to the ends of the earth.

Preparing to take to the skies in honor of America's veterans.

Preparing to take to the skies in honor of America’s veterans.

“We’ve only begun to touch the future. Right now we’re looking at going to Mars again — going to the moon again,” Gooch explained. “If you have a dream to fly, chase it. Do good in school, stay in school. It takes drive. It takes the ability to know what you want to do in your life, to have a dream, and then to chase it. You can get your pilot’s license at 17, so you don’t’ have to wait long.”

When asked if he had any general advice for today’s younger generation, he responded, “It gets better. Invest. Follow your parents, follow your teachers. Don’t think it’s all bad news, it’s good news.”

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He then stressed how vital it was for young Americans to study the history of the world so they may use that knowledge to help create a future filled with infinite possibilities.

If I was a young person today, I would study — and study history,” Gooch added. “Study American history. Study global history. Study Biblical history. Learn your history because it is not being taught today. That’s how I live my life — with that view. The sky’s not always falling. The sun’s coming up every day.”

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