We honor their service
Jun 14, 2012
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In April 1945, 19-year-old Don O. Daniels was a battle-tested Marine who had just finished 34 days of hard fighting on the island of Iwo Jima, and was training to invade Japan.
|Veterans from across South Carolina pose at the National World War II Memorial on April 11, 2012.|
Seaman Haskell Harbin was aboard the brand-new destroyer USS McCaffery, helping prepare the ship for combat in the Pacific. Over in Europe, infantryman John P. McCarty was earning his second Bronze Star as his regiment pushed through the Siegfried Line and fought its way into Germany.
In the spring of 2012, South Carolina's electric cooperatives paid tribute to the service of these men and 97 more World War II veterans during a VIP visit to Washington, D.C., and the National World War II Memorial.
Like so many of the "Greatest Generation," Daniels, Harbin and McCarty settled back into civilian life when the war was over and never talked much about their service. For his part, Daniels considered winning the war "a job we had to do." So when he participated in the April 11 Honor Flight to our nation's capital, he was nearly overwhelmed at the outpouring of thanks he and his fellow veterans received. "I wasn't expecting all that," Daniels said. "They treated us like kings."
During the day-long trip, organized by Honor Flight of South Carolina and funded by 19 cooperatives, the veterans took photos, shared stories and gave interviews to a throng of news media. Some touched the South Carolina pillar at the memorial, others somberly reflected on the wall of stars that commemorate the more than 400,000 military personnel who didn't return from the war.
After visits to the Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam War, Marine Corps War and the U.S. Air Force memorials, the veterans toured Arlington National Cemetery and observed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But the highlight of the day for many was the hero's welcome they received back at the Columbia airport. The veterans walked off the plane to a band playing patriotic songs, a gauntlet of American flags and hundreds of grateful South Carolinians pumping their fists in the air and chanting "USA! USA! USA!"
For Haskell Harbin, the rousing reception "brought water to my eyes, and it takes a lot to do that. "I thought it was just wonderful," he said. "I was surprised to see how many people were interested in World War II veterans. I thought they'd forgotten about us."
On the following pages, South Carolina Living presents photos and stories from the emotional day in Washington, D.C., as our way of saying thanks to all the veterans of World War II.
Honor Flights are funded through tax-deductible individual and corporate contributions. For more information, visit www.HonorFlightSC.com or call (803) 582-8826.
How to buy the book
Electric cooperatives in South Carolina sponsored an Honor Flight of 100 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2012. Purchase the souvenir book of the trip containing a profile and portrait of each veteran by mailing a check made payable to "Electric Cooperatives of S.C."
Honor Flight Book
808 Knox Abbott Drive
Cayce, SC 29033
Price: $29.95 per copy, includes sales tax and shipping.
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