Social media post sparks trip of a lifetime for widow of World War II vet

95-year-old to visit site where husband’s plane shot down in Italy during the war

HUMBLE – Norma Sue Stephenson, 95, will soon be taking the trip of a lifetime.

Stephenson, a resident of Humble will travel to Bologna, Italy to visit the site where her husband, Captain Victor Phelps’ plane was shot down during World War II.

“He flew the invasion and said that, that was the most planes he had ever seen at one time in the air, something like over a thousand,” Stephenson said.

Phelps was with the Twelfth Air Force’s 87th Fighter Group. He was shot down while carrying out orders to bomb a bridge near Bologna.

“He was shot down in Italy on his 116th mission and taken prisoner by the Germans” said Stephenson.

Phelps was taken prisoner by German soldiers but liberated months later by General George Patton’s army on April 29, 1945.

When the war ended Phelps came home and spent the rest of his life with Stephenson.

“He was a very handsome, very smart man. Smart enough to catch me,” Stephenson said.

The couple went on to have six children but Phelps died in in 1976 after he experienced complications with the open heart surgery he had weeks earlier.

Stephenson told KPRC she found out there was a memorial where Phelps’ plane crashed several years ago thanks to an Italian organization who reached out to her grandson after he put up a post on Facebook honoring his grandfather.

“If my grandson hadn’t put that on the internet, if the man in Italy hadn’t seen it, none of this would happen.” Stephenson said.

The family’s wish to visit the memorial site was granted through the nonprofit Twilight Wish foundation.

The Twilight Wish Foundation is a national nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to honor and enrich the lives of seniors through intergenerational wish granting celebrations.

Stephenson will travel to Bologna on April 29th.

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