Local veterans honor others on Honor Flight

MARION, IL (KFVS) - The Central Illinois Honor Flight hits a milestone on Veterans Day. The volunteer group took its 100th veteran for a tour to the nation's capital to see the memorial in their honor. Three years ago the group started taking World War II veterans to that same memorial.

Recently more than fifty from central and southern Illinois made the trip. A trip that for some was just not only to receive honor but to give to those who never made it home.

Vietnam veteran Edward Davis searches for an old friend at the Vietnam Memorial.  Davis scans a marble slab, until he finds the fallen solider.

"He was a year behind me in school, sorry to see that day," Davis said.  "He was a fun loving guy."

Davis then searches for another friend and shares the moment with someone who also knows the pains of war, Guy Pete Peterson who is a veteran himself.

Two veterans, two different wars and both answered a call to service nearly a quarter century apart. Peterson joined the World War II effort in 1942 at 20 years old. He later went to the South Pacific then Philippines.

"I had a rank of Sergeant but rank didn't mean anything to me, I wasn't out there to make money, I was there doing what I was told to do," Peterson said.

Peterson eventually returned home to southern Illinois and moved to Marion.

Meanwhile Davis joined America's fight in the Vietnam War at 19. But unlike those on Vietnam Memorial, Davis later returned home.

I think about the life and when they were called upon and the life that was lost," Davis said.

Davis eventually made his way to Marion as well and right across the street from Peterson. But it would take another 15 years before the two realized their service connection.

"Pete and my dad started talking about their experiences because they were both in the South Pacific and that's probably the first time I found out Pete was a veteran," Davis said.

It's a bond of war and friendship. That Peterson says is also comforting to have by his side at the World War II Memorial as he remembers and honors those he served with so long ago.

"He's thinking the same thing that I'm thinking, that we're so blessed to be living in a country like this," Peterson said.

To learn how you can get involved in the Central Illinois Honor Flight click here.

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