A 90-year-old World War II veteran from Vista is being recognized for what he did during the war.
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Paul Bonilla finally received the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal after waiting for eight years.
"I dedicate this to Bill," he said.
Bonilla is referring to Bill McCarthy, his pilot in an SBD dive bomber during World War II. On Oct. 6, 1943, the two left the USS Lexington on a mission to Wake Island, which was being controlled by the Japanese.
While on the mission, the two spotted a U.S. submarine that was being shelled by Japanese artillery. McCarthy and Bonilla took out the artillery and saved the submarine, but on the way back to the carrier, the plane malfunctioned and crashed into the sea.
"I picked up Bill just as his head was going under the water," said Bonilla. "It was that close."
At a reunion 50 years later, Bonilla's former squadron commander asked if he ever received the Distinguished Flying Cross, but he had not.
However, after eight years of paperwork and back-and-forth communications, Bonilla finally received the medal.
Though McCarthy died some time ago, Bonilla said he is on a mission to ensure his pilot is recognized too.
"Thats what I'm working on now," he said. "Hes earned it."
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