ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - An Escondido family is on a mission to fulfill the dreams of a WWII veteran and recent COVID-19 survivor.
John Beiszer, 92, a WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, served in the Navy as a flight engineer for more than two decades. He was also stationed for two winters in Antarctica.
While on R&R in New Zealand, he and some fellow sailors bought a 1926 Chevy Touring Sedan in 1960. When it came time to leave, the men drew straws to see who would get the car.
“Dad was the lucky guy who drew the straw and was able keep the car,” said Beiszer’s daughter, Karen Scott.
In 1962, Beizer married his love Marilyn, a New Zealand native, in her country.
“They jumped in the car and did their honeymoon. Would always hear the stories about cooking sausages on the engine while they were driving. The car always meant the world to dad. He’s very nostalgic and sentimental,” said Scott.
Beiszer, who now lives in Escondido, has always had dreams of shipping it to the US, but it was logistically tricky and costly, and so it remained in New Zealand with family and friends.
Then, in August, Beiszer—diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a few years ago—was hospitalized with COVID pneumonia. Doctors weren't optimistic. That's when Beiszer's son, in a video call, told an incoherent Beiszer about plans to restore his beloved car.
“Hoping to motivate him to fight. My dad started moved around. My brother believes my dad really heard that and got excited about it. That was pretty much the turning point for him,” said Scott.
To everyone's surprise, Beiszer recovered after two weeks in the hospital.
Loved ones told Beiszer they were flying him and his wife to New Zealand to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
What they didn't tell him was their plans to restore the car, and he doesn't recall being told about it while in the ICU. Scott is hoping to surprise him with a ride in the restored car during his wedding anniversary trip.
“Dad is such an inspiration to me,” said an emotional Scott. “I just want to see him have a really joyous moment. I think it would be incredibly special.”
A Gofundme campaign has been started to help raise money for the anniversary trip and car restoration.