Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Dr. Lisso Simmons crossed off the last thing on his bucket list Monday after soaring through the skies over Natchitoches after taking off from Natchitoches Regional Airport. A well-known Natchitoches citizen and former Northwestern State professor, Simmons received the plane ride in a four-seater as a gift from his son, David.
Dean Lemoine, an airline pilot, was at the controls.
Along for the ride with Lisso and David Simmons was Lisso’s great grandson and namesake, Tovin Lisso. Dr. Dieter A. Waldvoggel, Lt. Col., US Air Force, Retired, told the Times that his father-in-law has wanted to lift off again ever since he was a Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) during world War II. Waldvoggel is married to Lisso’s daughter, Staci.
“I could have flown that plane,” Lisso said after the ride.
Really gratifying was having his son and great grandson with him. He was able to see his former home and other sites from the air that he said were “…free from the traffic.” Flying conditions were nearly perfect.
David Simmons said he could not have gotten the details worked out without the cooperation of the personnel at Natchitoches Regional Airport. Once he contacted them, they secured Lemoine and the plane and worked out the details.
“It was just great,” Lisso says.
The once active Lions Club member is now 99 and lives at The Arbor. He was on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1942-52 on just one ship for the duration of the war. That ship was the USS Belleau Wood, an 11-ton independence class small aircraft carrier active in the Pacific Theater. It supported the US Army and US Marines while capturing islands in the Pacific Theater and sailed into Tokyo Harbor following the Japanese surrender.
Lisso took part in Operation Magic Carpet, a US Navy operation that transported 8 million troops back to the States after the war almost immediately following Japan’s surrender.