WINDSOR, CT (WFSB) – Seven people on board a vintage WWII plane that crashed at Bradley International Airport died on Wednesday.
At least one of them had a real passion for WWII history.
The family of Rob Riddell said that ever since he was a teen, he was really invested in WWII history, and he died doing what he loved.
On Friday, his family members said Riddell's wedding band was recovered from the wreckage.
“He was a WWII enthusiast and this trip was on his bucket list to do,” said Jessica Darling, Riddell’s stepdaughter.
Riddell’s family said he life was spent chasing his love of WWII history. His honeymoon was even spent visiting Pearl Harbor.
His 60th birthday, which would have been less than a year from now, was going to be in Normandy.
“This is something that is really tragic, but he died doing something that was really near to him,” Darling said.
Riddell was not even supposed to be on the flight that killed 7 people Wednesday morning.
His widow Debra wrote on Facebook, "Rob was the best person I've ever known. He was my soul mate I will miss him beyond words can ever express."
Riddell’s family is celebrating a life so richly lived.
“He was a very loving and giving person, and he made my mom very happy and us very happy to have him in our lives,” Darling said.
Riddell’s family remembers him as the ultimate family man. He leaves behind two children and an 18-month-old grandchild.
Even before they came into his life, history was in his blood. Riddell spent his teenage years rebuilding a WWII Jeep.
“He was just very, very smart. He always took time to get to know exactly what he was doing, he never rushed anything and that’s why he won prizes for the Jeep,” Darling said.
Looking through his Facebook page, he was so excited to board the B-17 flight. In fact, it appears he took the trip a day earlier than he was supposed to.
He posted a couple of pictures from inside the plane before it was about to take off.
“What we really want people to focus on is Rob’s time of suffering is over from this crash. There’s a lot of people out there that survived this crash and they’re going to have a really tough recovery and really want the families out there to know that we’re thinking about them and we want people to focus on them,” Darling said.
Riddell worked for The Hartford, and in a statement a spokesperson said "We are very saddened to learn of the passing of our longtime employee, Robert Riddell, in the crash yesterday at Bradley International Airport. We offer our condolences to his family and friends and to everyone affected by this tragedy.”