EUGENE, Ore. — Charlie Schull’s bags are packed. He’s ready for an adventure–a trip to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial was officially completed in 2004.
The next year, the first Honor Flight took off. Now honor flights are in coming daily, bringing World War II veterans to the memorial.
Twenty-five local veterans took off from PDX Thursday morning to visit the memorial.
And time is critical. These veterans who served our country are dying at a rate of 900 per day.
“When you look at the ones, kids who fought the Battle of the Bulge, kids that flew fighter planes off of carriers…They were kids then. They were in their early 20s. If I’m 86, they have to be up in their mid-90s now,” Schull said.
Schull was just 17 when he signed with the Navy Reserve in 1944. He was stationed in the Philippines and assigned to aviation maintenance. Shortly after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan and the war came to an end.
Schull doesn’t have many pictures from his time in the service, but he remembers. He created sketches, which are vivid in detail.
“War is an awful hell. And if you’re in combat, it’s personified. It’s terrible,” Schull said.
Schull never saw combat first hand, but he witnessed the devastation on his return home.
“It was the first time I’ve seen Pearl Harbor, and it was horrible, the Arizona laying there. Think of all the guys who were still on board and how lucky we were,” Schull said.
South Willamette Valley Honor Flight raised the funds and collected donations to cover the expenses of 25 veterans who will each be accompanied by a guardian.
“To go to all this trouble and expense. It kind of just blows me away,” Schull said. “It was an honor to serve this country. I guess I am astounded that ah, this trip is being provided to me because I never expected it.”
Schull was there this past October when South Willamette Valley’s first Honor Flight landed at PDX. He saw the fanfare, the plane greeted. He was part of the welcome home. At that time, he expressed his hope to be on an Honor Flight.
“Yeah I do, I’ve never been to D.C. What an opportunity,” Schull said.
It’s a chance to experience our nation’s tribute to him and all World War II veterans.
Another 25 veterans will be on the Honor Flight next month, but there are still 50 veterans on the waiting list hoping to make this trip.