BOUNTIFUL -- Zack Barlow figured the elderly man living across the street who daily raised the flag and saluted it every morning must have an interesting story to tell.
So Barlow, who watched the flag going up every morning at 5 a.m. while taking his cat outside, decided to walk over and introduce himself.
Barlow said his neighbor had an interesting story indeed. Turns out 90 year-old Roy Stapp served as a B-26 Marauder aircraft pilot in World War II and completed more than 175 missions. Barlow, who has had a hobby since childhood of building model airplanes and military equipment, decided he wanted to build a model of Stapp's plane and surprise him with it for his 90th birthday, so he started asking Stapp enough questions about the plane to positively identify it but not give things away.
"I have never been able to find a picture of the actual plane. I was able to hunt down a graphic representation of it in a history book along with a pretty good description of what made it unique," Barlow said. "That was one of the coolest parts for me. The fact that there were virtually no pictures of it and that there are no model kits or even aftermarket decals to make it. It's the only one in the world as far as I know."
Barlow also said the decals could not be purchased or even patched together from other kits.
"When they made these planes, the crews would paint a lot of the artwork on them in the field by hand," he said. "For most of the really popular planes you can find aftermarket decals but for this one I had to take a graphic depiction and other descriptions and make them myself in Photoshop and then print them on special paper. It was the first time I had done this and it took about seven tries."
It took roughly four months to complete in his spare time. Last week, Barlow and his wife presented the 12-inches wide, 9-inches long plane to Stapp.
"After he showed me all of his World War II medals and memorabilia, I told him I had something for him," Barlow said. "I brought it over and told him I had made it for him."
Stapp, who after serving 44 years in the military, retired as a full colonel, said the B-26 was a difficult plane to fly but it was also the best of all the aircraft.
"We were in a very famous bomb group," he said. "The 432nd Bomb Squadron. There were three of us (in his flight crew) and we made our way through 180 missions and we all came home alive. We had some very interesting experiences and we're all very patriotic."
Stapp said he was thrilled to receive the gift from Barlow.
"It was a wonderful surprise," he said. "Zack is a wonderful young man. When he brought it over to the house I was tickled. It amazes me what talent he has."
Barlow said he hopes the plane will be a tool to help Stapp tell his story to others and help his service live on.