Seventy years after joining the U.S. Armed Forces to fight for their country, three Elwood men were among the veterans recently honored by an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial.
Carl Scott, 89, Joe Peeper, 88, and Bob Burchette, 90, flew with 67 other WWII veterans on the free one-day excursion arranged by the Indianapolis chapter of the Honor Flight Network.
The purpose of the Network is to honor American men and women who served in the war years 1941-1945.
The flights to D.C. are arranged by all-volunteer groups across the nation that depend on donations to cover the $60,000 cost for each full flight.
“Guardians” who pay their own way escort each veteran throughout the day. The Network states, “Our veterans are not asking for recognition. It is our position that we owe it to them.”
The WW II memorial did not open in Washington until 2004, when the survivors were entering their 80s and 90s. Realizing these veterans’ health and finances might deter them from seeing their memorial, one man in Cincinnati began organizing the flights.
Since that 2005 inception, the number of Honor Flight chapters in the country has grown to 114; they have transported 98,500 veterans to see their memorial. The goal is to get the 1.5 million remaining WW II veterans to Washington D.C. before it is too late, as they are now passing away at an approximate rate of 800 a day. After that, the Network will continue the flights for veterans of later wars.
Pouch of thank-you letters
The three Elwood men served from 1943-1945. Carl Scott, in a combat squad, and Joe Peeper, as an aircraft mechanic, were Marines in the Pacific Theater. Bob Burchette was an airbase mechanic in the Army Air Corps in England and Europe.
All came under fire, but Scott saw the most action. In the invasion of Pellelieu in 1945, 13 men out of 200 were left standing in his company after they went in on the third wave. On Okinawa, Carl was wounded when a sniper's bullet punctured his helmet and drove the shards into his face and scalp.