World War II vet sees plane he repaired during WWII fly into Macon airport

World War II veteran Grover Sassaman recently missed out on a free flight to Washington to see monuments dedicated to the war, but on Sunday his friends brought history to him.

Sassaman, 98, served as a Marine in World War II and was an aircraft mechanic in the famed Black Sheep Squadron. He is also owner of the Harley-Davidson dealership in Macon and is the world’s oldest active Harley dealer.

On Sunday, about 75 Harley riders and other friends and family showed up at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport to honor Sassaman’s service.

The Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing of Atlanta flew in an F4U Corsair, the fighter plane that Sassaman worked on during the war.

“Outstanding,” Sassaman said when asked what it was like to see the plane again. “It was always one of my favorite airplanes, and I enjoyed working on them.”

The Black Sheep Squadron was the inspiration for a popular television series. Maj. Greg “Pappy” Boyington, the leader of the squadron, shot down 28 Japanese planes and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Sassaman was awarded the Purple Heart for an injury he received during a Japanese attack.

Toby Bullington, of Lizella, was among the Harley riders there for the event. He has known Sassaman since Bullington bought his first Harley in 1982.

“I think a lot of Grover,” Bullington said. “He’s done me many favors in the past.”

Sassaman was in a mobility scooter at the event, but he still works at the dealership every day and still rides a Harley with a side car.

Sassaman was scheduled to go on an Honor Flight on Sept. 7, in which war veterans are flown for free to Washington to see monuments dedicated to their service. Sassaman had to skip the flight though for health reasons.

Wes Stowers, who piloted the F4U into the airport for the event, said there are only about a dozen of the planes still flying. He said there aren’t many veterans left who worked on the plane in combat and he was honored to meet Sassaman.

“It’s a real privilege to be able to share this aircraft with him,” Stowers said.

Wayne Crenshaw has worked as a journalist since 1990 and has been a reporter for The Telegraph since 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Georgia College and is a resident of Warner Robins.