SKIP TO THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES:
- Giving back to the Greatest Generation
- Restaurateur commits to WWII veterans
- Lt. Governor André Bauer Co-Chairs Effort to Take World War II Vets to Visit War Memorial in Washington D.C.
August 1, 2008
By JEFF WILKINSON
Group raising money to offer free trips to war memorial in Washington
Each day, about 1,400 World War II veterans nationally pass away, most without ever visiting the memorial in Washington erected in their honor.
Now, a new group — Honor Flight of South Carolina — wants to remedy that. They are offering free trips for 600 World War II veterans in the Midlands.
The group — headed by restaurateur Bill Dukes, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Medal of Honor recipient Charles Murray — is seeking to raise $300,000 for six one-day flights to the World War II Memorial beginning in November.
“Our goal is to provide all World War II veterans in our area an opportunity to visit the memorial, recognizing that many will need financial and physical help,” Dukes said. “We don’t want to leave anyone behind.”
Veterans and their families can register for the flights at the local organization’s Web site. Ailing veterans and those who have never seen the memorial will get preference, Dukes said.
Honor Flight is a national organization begun in 2004 by Springfield, Ohio’s Earl Morse, a physician’s assistant and retired U.S. Air Force captain, to honor veterans he had taken care of.
Morse started, on a whim, by flying one veteran to the memorial himself in a small plane. The reaction of that veteran was such that he began asking other pilots to donate flights for other vets.
Today the Honor Flight Network has 73 hubs in 30 states, including one in Greenville. By the end of 2008, organizers hope to have a hubs in all 50 states and transport 12,000 veterans.
National president Jim McLaughlin said momentum builds in each new hub once the inaugural flight is booked.
“Once you get that first flight off the ground, the money starts rolling in,” he said. “And the bulk of that comes from the man on the street, a $100 check.”
Dukes was inspired to start a hub after he took his father, William E. Dukes, who served as a sergeant in the 81st “Wildcat” infantry division, to the memorial in June.
“There was just such a quiet reverence there,” he said. “I came back and decided to do this.”
Dukes recruited his friend Bauer, who was instrumental in landing the U.S. Medal of Honor convention for Charleston in 2010. Also, Bauer’s grandfather, Rudolph Charles Bauer, was executive officer on the USS Midway. He retired a rear admiral and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor so many people that gave so much for our country,” he said.
Bauer said he was in Belgium for the 50th anniversary of D-Day where he spoke with many veterans about their experiences.
“It was one of the most moving things,” he said. “It was unbelievable to hear their stories.”
Bauer said it was important to raise money fast.
“Bill and I are going to beg and grovel,” he said. “This is as worthy as a cause gets. And we want to take everyone who wants to go.”
The youngest World War II veterans are 78 years old. With average life expectancy at 74.4, “time is against us,” Dukes said.
There are about 3 million WWII veterans alive today. It is expected that virtually all of them will be gone in the next 10 years.
On Thursday, Murray, now of Columbia, who won his Medal of Honor for helping hold off 200 Germans at a strategic pass in France, wept as he said that the veterans will be “overwhelmed” when they visit the memorial.
“They are going to have tears in their eyes just like I have now,” said Murray, who retired as an Army colonel.
The flights will be one-day charters on US Airways 737 jets. The veterans will visit the memorial and Arlington National Cemetery before returning to Columbia.
The plane will carry 100 veterans free of charge. Also, 43 “guardians” — family members or volunteers can book flights for $500. Volunteers can also register at the Web site.
The first flight is scheduled for Nov. 15.
© 2008 TheState.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.thestate.com
August 11, 2008
By BILL DUKES
No son could have been prouder of his father than I was as I stood at his side with our families surrounding us at the World War II veterans memorial in Washington. It was a hot, muggy day in June, as we stood there taken in completely by that special moment.
I tried to imagine the thoughts that had to be racing through my father’s mind. Now, at age 93, he stood proud and erect reflecting back on the heroic actions of young Sgt. William E. Dukes more than 60 years ago, when he fought for his country and earned the Purple Heart for his wounds. He had to be thinking too of his buddies who had fought alongside him. It is difficult to put into words what this experience meant to our father, my brother and me, our wives and especially to our dad’s grandchildren who were with him at the memorial. It was a moment I shall cherish forever.
My brother, Don, and I had been planning a family reunion for this past summer and could think of nothing better than holding it in Washington, where we could help our Dad realize his dream to view the World War II memorial. Although it was erected some 60 years after the end of hostilities, a grateful nation had dedicated it to him and the millions of other men and women who joined in the fight against fascism.
On my return to Columbia, I made a commitment to see what I could do about providing an opportunity for other World War II veterans in our community to see their memorial. I shared the idea with several dear friends, and they have joined with me to create Honor Flight South Carolina.
There are about 3 million World War II veterans still alive, and they are dying at the rate of about 1,500 a day. Even at that rate, which we know is accelerating as they age, virtually all of them will leave us within the next 10 years. Before that happens, I want to make sure the distinguished veterans in our community have the opportunity to see and experience the memorial as my father did.
So many of these people have physical and financial limitations that need to be addressed, and Honor Flight South Carolina will help in that regard. We plan to provide a one-day charter flight to Washington for veterans with physical or financial limitations who have never seen the memorial. They will travel as our guests, with the inaugural flight scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 15.
This first flight will accommodate 100 veterans at no charge, plus 35 guardians who will accompany, assist and escort these honored guests throughout the day. All expenses for what we hope will be a series of flights will be raised through the contributions of business and civic leaders, businesses, non-profit organizations and others. The number of flights we arrange will depend on the generosity of our community.
I am absolutely confident that we will do whatever it takes to show our gratitude and appreciation to the veterans from our area who fought and sacrificed for us. It is the least we can do for them now. If you could have stood at my side with my father, you would have seen just how powerful a moment this can be for them.
Please go to our Web site, www.honorflightsc.com, to see how you or your organization can be a part of this living tribute to these people to whom we owe so much.
Mr. Dukes is the owner of three Midlands restaurants.
© 2008 TheState.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.thestate.com
August 15, 2008
Photo and story by Pamela Edwards
They saved the world, but for 60 years, the veterans of World War II had no national memorial to honor their service.
The WWII Memorial, in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in April, 2004, 60 years after the war. Now in their 80s and 90s, many of those brave veterans are unable to experience their memorial.
Local restaurateur, Bill Dukes, had the opportunity to take his father, 92- year- old World War II veteran, Bill Sr., to visit the monument. After returning to Columbia, Dukes made a commitment to provide the opportunity for other World War II veterans to see their memorial. As a result, Honor Flight South Carolina was founded.
"We have three million World War II veterans living today. They're dying at the rate of 1,200 to 1,400 a day. We need to hurry up and get with them and provide this to them before they pass away," says Dukes.
Honor Flight South Carolina is a local chapter of the national group "Honor Flight" that raises money to take World War II veterans for free to the memorial that honors them. The local group, headed by Dukes, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, and Medal of Honor recipient Charles Murray, is seeking to raise $300,000 to fund six one- day flights to the WWII memorial.
The Inaugural Flight date is scheduled for November 15, 2008. This first flight will accommodate 100 veterans at no charge and will be a one- day charter flight to Washington with priority given to veterans with financial and physical limitations. Guardians will accompany, assist, and escort the honored guests.
Schedule of events for the November 15 trip include:
• Leave Columbia on USAir Charter at 8:30 am
• Arrive at Reagan National Airport at 10 am
• Proceed to WWII Memorial via motor coach. Remain at Memorial for two to two and one half hours. Presentation of American and South Carolina Flags will be held at the South Carolina Pillar
• Visit Viet Nam and Korean Veterans Memorials and Lincoln Memorial
• Visit Iwo Jima Memorial
• Coaches will proceed to Arlington Cemetery with a stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 4 pm visitors will view the changing of the guard
• Board coaches for airport - leave D.C. at 6 pm, arrive back in Columbia at 7:30 pm
Honorary Chairmen of the Board of Directors for Honor Flight South Carolina are Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Charles Murray. Board members include Bill Dukes, Jim Anderson, Brian Dukes, Frank Adams, Nelson Lacy, and Larry Koester.
If you are, or know, a WWII veteran, or are interested in being a sponsor, guardian, or volunteer, more information may be found at www.honorflightsc.com or by calling 864- 884- 3001.
Honor Flight South Carolina
Serving as honorary chairs are Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Col. Charles Murray, one of only 29 living World War II recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Lt. Governor has also signed up as one of the 35 guardians who will each pay $500 as their portion of the flight costs. He wants to visit the grave of his grandfather, Rear Adm. Rudolph Charles Bauer, a Naval Academy graduate and veteran of the Battle of Leyte Gulf who is buried at Arlington.
It has been very humbling to plan this project, sitting in rooms full of those who were present at the attack on Pearl Harbor, who flew over the landing fields of Okinawa, who jumped with the 82nd Airborne, and who tended the wounds of the young Americans who were wounded at D Day and the Battle of the Bulge. South Carolina sent 166,119 off to that war, and 4,153 died in combat. Yet every South Carolinian was impacted for life, whether they served in the armed forces or stayed home participating in the war effort through rationing, war production, and sharing joy, grief and finally victory.
Honor Flight is a very simple concept. It is a race against time. It is an effort to provide World War II veterans, a vanishing generation, an opportunity to visit their memorial in Washington. Information about how you can participate is available at the bottom of this release.
(Columbia, S.C.) Bill Dukes, a longtime Columbia area business and civic leader, announced today the formation of Honor Flight South Carolina, a local organization created to give World War II veterans in our community the opportunity to travel to Washington DC to visit the World War II memorial dedicated to honoring their service and sacrifice.
The idea came about as a result of a family reunion the Dukes family held in Washington in June to give Bill’s dad a chance to see the memorial. Young Sergeant William E. Dukes had fought for his country more than 60 years ago and earned the Purple Heart for his wounds suffered. On returning to Columbia, Bill made a commitment to see what he could do to provide an opportunity for other World War II veterans in our community to see THEIR memorial. He was familiar with an organization that could help, and contacted them for their assistance in creating Honor Flight South Carolina.” That organization has now been established. The Honorary Chairs for the organization are Lt Governor André Bauer of South Carolina, who heads the SC Office of Aging, and Colonel (Ret) Charles Murray, a WWll Veteran and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor who lives in Columbia.
Research has determined that there are about 3,000,000 WWII veterans alive today, and they are dying at the rate of about 1,500 a day. Even at that rate, which is accelerating as they age, virtually all of our distinguished veterans will leave us within the next 10 years. Before that happens, this group wants to make sure that WWII veterans in our community have the opportunity to see and experience the memorial as Bill’s father did. So many of these people have physical and financial limitations that need to be addressed and Honor Flight South Carolina will help in that regard. The group plans to provide a one-day charter flight to Washington for veterans with physical or financial limitations that have never seen the memorial. They will travel as honored guests, with the inaugural flight scheduled for Saturday, November 15, 2008.
This first flight will accommodate 100 veterans at no charge, plus 35 guardians who will accompany, assist, and escort these distinguished veterans throughout the day. All expenses for what they hope will be a series of flights will be raised through the contributions of business and civic leaders, businesses and non-profit organizations, and other committed donors, as well as the guardians themselves. The number of flights arranged will depend on the generosity of our community. Bill Dukes feels absolutely confident that people will do whatever it takes to show our gratitude and appreciation to the veterans from this area who fought and sacrificed for us. He went on to add, “It is the least we can do for them now. If you could have stood at my side with my father, as he silently viewed the monument, alone in his thoughts, you would have seen just how powerful a moment this can be for our World War II veterans”.
A website has been established at www.honorflightsc.com, where people can go to learn more about the organization and how they can be a part of this living tribute to these people to whom we owe so much. Interested individuals can also contact either Bill Dukes at 803-345-8978, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Marvin Chernoff at 803-261-7646, email: email@example.com.