World War II veteran from Perryville visits D.C. on Honor Flight | Community Spirit
PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - World War II veteran Percy Davis represented Citizens Electric on an Honor Flight charter to Washington, D.C., on October 23.
Davis, 89, and his daughter, Connie Blechle, rose early at 2:30 a.m. that morning because they were so excited, they couldn’t sleep. The pair didn’t return to their St. Louis hotel room until about 11 that night.
“They kept you busy all day,” Davis said of the trip.
The focus was to visit the National WWII Memorial, but they also saw several other national landmarks and memorials.
“It was really pretty,” Davis said of the memorial. “You can’t know how much I appreciate (the trip).”
The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their immense sacrifices. Now known as “the Greatest Generation,” a phrase coined by journalist Tom Brokaw, WWII veterans are dying at the rate of approximately 900 per day, according to a recent study.
Davis, like many of his peers, didn’t talk about his time on the frontline until just recently, when he started attending D-Day reunions.
“You didn’t want to think about it when you got home. It was just one of those things you had to do,” he said.
During the trip, Davis and the 23 other veterans were treated like the heroes they are. However, it was the reception upon their return that brought Blechle to tears; many of Davis’ family surprised him at the airport, along with a crowd of members of the armed forces.
When they left that morning, the veterans were presented with a mail call with letters from their loved ones.
“You’ve truly helped make the world a better place,” wrote Davis’ grandson, Brandon Blechle, along with his wife, Jamie, and two sons, Easton and Wyatt. “We are proud to call you grandpa.”
Davis received a draft notice the day he turned 18. “The president sent me a little invitation,” he said with a laugh.
The five-time recipient of the Bronze Star fought in several major European battles, including the landing at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and Luxemburg.
“It was terrible, but we lived through it. We got through it and out the other side,” Davis said. “It seemed like they always put us in the hot places, you know. But that’s just the way it is.”
He joined the U.S. Army Dec. 4, 1942, and was honorably discharged on Dec. 26, 1945. Davis re-enlisted in 1949 and served a total of 21 years in the Army and Air Force, where he worked as an instructor on B-52 bombers. Davis’ five brothers also served during WWII.
“They all came back,” said Davis’ wife, Maxine.
Remembering the end of the war, Davis said, “Our commander called us and said, ‘Take all arms out of your weapons, store ’em and relax. The war is over.’ Whoopee! And then we all decided, ‘Where can we go to get a good shower and clean up?’”
Despite all the action he saw, Davis says he was lucky to come home uninjured.
“I never got a scratch all the way through. Well, I had one on my arm, but that all healed. It just went through my clothes and that was the closest I got,” he said.
The all-expenses-paid trip included two seats on the charter departing from St. Louis, meals, accommodations and bus transportation throughout the trip. CEC’s power supplier, Wabash Valley Power Association, was a co-sponsor. The trip reflects Citizens’ and Wabash’s commitment to community — one of the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ seven governing principles.
“Sponsoring this trip is such a small token of our appreciation for these men and women who gave up their youth to fight for us. Everything co-ops stand for would not be possible without their service,” said CEO Van Robinson. “The least we can do for them is to fly a veteran to our nation’s capital, so he or she can see how this country has honored them and forever preserved their legacy.”
To donate to the Honor Flight Network, go to honorflight.org/donate.
Copyright KFVS 2012. All rights reserved.
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