by Molly Solomon
June 17, 2017
Rowland was diagnosed with lymphocytic cancer in January. Doctors told him he only had a pint of blood left in his body. After trips to four different hospitals and two stints in rehab, Rowland was finally healthy enough to get on the plane.
It was a special day for a Vietnam War veteran in Vancouver, Washington. Simon Rowland, 66, has always wanted to fly in an old P-Model Cessna plane. And this weekend, he got his wish.
|Veteran Simon Rowland peering out|
the window of the Cessna plane as
it flies across parts of southwest
Washington. Molly Solomon/OPB
A crowd of friends who helped organize the flight met him at the runway Saturday morning. One of them is Meredith McMackin, an art therapist who met Simon while teaching a class at the VA Portland Community Living Center on the Vancouver campus.
“We were outside because it was a beautiful day and I had art supplies out there,” remembers McMackin. “And this fellow, Simon, looks up and sees a small plane and says, ‘I want to fly in one of those before I die.’”
That planted a seed for McMackin and she started making calls to the nearby Pearson Field. She got in contact with a local pilot, Bill Rollin, who was happy to help. When McMackin told Rowland she had secured a plane, he broke down in tears.
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