Arlington Heights man, 95, fought in 3 wars

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- A 95-year-old Arlington Heights man has served his country in the Air Force, fighting in not just one war, but three - World War II, Korean War and Vietnam.

Chester Diolanti, who lives in the Moorings in Arlington Heights retirement community, said he is susceptible to forgetfulness due to a recent stroke.

However, on Veterans Day on Monday, he talked about his days as a lieutenant colonel.

"The saddest part was seeing a bomber go down, you see because there were nine guys on the airplane. They didn't lose a wing or anything, centrifugal force would keep them in the airplane and they can't get out," Diolanti said.

The lobby of the retirement community, where he has lived for three years, has a display recognizing his service.

Born in 1923 in Evanston, Diolanti enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor. After training stateside, he was sent to England, piloting P51 Checker tails that escorted bombers across Germany. He said he survived by luck.

Returning home, Diolanti stayed in the Air Force Reserves and was called back to active duty for Korea.

"I remember my mother saying, 'Oh God, not again I have always remembered,'" Diolanti said.

He returned home and worked again overseas as a civilian, then re-enlisted for Vietnam.

"I have a job to do and I did it. I wasn't always happy with that but I was in the military," he said.

Since the 1980s, Diolanti has volunteered in the northwest suburbs focusing on medical issues and Meals on Wheels.
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