Family, friends gather to say goodbye to 99-year-old World War II veteran

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Family and friends gathered Monday to say good bye to a 99-year-old World War II veteran.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Irwin was an Air Force pilot who saw a lot of action during the war, and lived to tell about it. Now, he is interred next to his wife at the National Cemetery in North Phoenix. 

It was a perfect day to salute a hero. To thank him for his service, to show young people what patriotism and service look like and feel like.

"We need this spirit, this feel-good spirit, and that's what its about. Community, family and county, and that was grandpa," said Lieutenant Colonel Irwin's granddaughter, Candice Bryan. "That was grandpa."

Lieutenant Colonel Irwin was a World War II veteran who flew out of Hickam Field in Hawaii. He was there in 1941 during the Pearl Harbor attack, and survived. He would go on to fly over 60 missions.

"He flew B-17 and B-29s during World War II," said Lieutenant Colonel Irwin's son, Bill Irwin. "He fought in Korea. 26 years in the Air Force."    

Lietuenant Colonel Irwin retired in 1965, and passed away in Arizona this past summer, at the age of 99. Lieutenant Colonel Irwin's family waited until Veterans Day to officially say goodbye, and inter him at the National Memorial Cemetery.

Through the mournful notes of Taps, Those who knew Lieutenant Colonel Irwin and those who didn't honored his service, and wished him farewell on his final mission.

"What I remember most is his dedication to his mission," said Bill. "That's what it all about when you're in the service is completing your mission, and that's what he did."

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