SAN DIEGO — Major John Tashjian flew the very Corsair in World War II that honored his memory with a flyover in ceremonies at Miramar National Cemetery on Friday.
The son of Armenian immigrants, John Tashjian, was a Marine fighter pilot who enlisted in the Navy two days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
This show of respect was a proud moment for his family.
His son told reporters, "Ohhh, My dad, 101 years old. An amazing life; healthy, super positive guy. Always smiled; he was just a wonderful guy."
One day over the Pacific in 1943, another pilot was shot down. Major Tashjian stayed with him.
Michele Spry, an author and volunteer at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, said, "So Mr. Tashjian promised never to leave him, so he circled over him until help would come."
A Navy destroyer took about 30 minutes to reach the downed pilot and pull him from the water.
Lt. Col. Ferrill Purdy never forgot.
Spry continued, "He said he owes his life to Mr. Tashjian. He is a true American hero for saving the life of his fellow Marine."
The major was surprised on his 100th birthday at the museum: A ride in the fighter jet he once piloted.
He was asked, "You want to go for a flight in this Corsair?" There was no hesitation. Yeah!" he replied.
Peter and the rest of the family were thrilled, "The hundredth birthday flight; that was over the moon. That was amazing!"
The fly-over Friday took him one last time through the clouds. The pilot, Matthew Nightingale, explained, “There's a little urn on the windscreen up there; it has part of John in it, and I was laughing all the way, how wonderful it was to fly with him."
Peter treasured the moment. “It was so touching; seeing it come straight up the column, so close; a perfect picture. It was such a wonderful closure for me to see that.”
WATCH RELATED: Hundreds of San Diegans show up in Coronado to honor Tom Rice, national treasure and World War II veteran (Dec. 2022).