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May 19, 2010     Times
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ll By Jo HHHard When the Natiorial World involved in the invasion of Oki- War II Memorial openedto the nawa.., a total of three years public on April 29, 2004, Dalen and three days of service. He Shellhammer didn't know if received the bronze star in i'ec- he would ever see it. Dalenognition for his bravery. was a Navy man in the war, Almost seventy years later, assigned to a Marine unit who Dalen, traveling with daughter needed medical corp workers. Melissa Kwit and fellow Mt. He served in China and was Pulaski resident Everett Dalen and Everett at Illinois pillar of National WWII Memo- rial. Seal at Memorial Streenz, was honored along with 102 other WWII veterans from Central Illinois with an expense paid trip to visit the memorial and other DC sites. An organization known as Honor Flight is committed to providing this opportunity to as many veterans as possible, but especially WWII veterans and veterans with terminal ill- nesses. The Central Illinois Honor Flight group is known as Lin- colnland Honor Flight. They were able to make the trip from Springfield on April 28th due to the generous-donation of a charter flight made by South- west Airlines. The group of 104 vets left early on the morning of the 28th and spent a chilly and rainy day in the nation's cap- ital. They were given match- ing t-shirts and caps honoring who they are. The shirts bore a saying, "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a vet- eran." A crowd was on hand to wel- .come them with banners and music. Their first stop was to the WWII Memorial, which was an emotional event. From there, they were able to ~iew other famous sites including the other war memorials and the White House, finishing up at Arlington Cemetery. Through- out the day, groups of school students noticed them and talked to the veterans. "They were amazed that dad had fought in WWII," Melissa Kwit said. "They told him. 'You're a cool dude.' I don't think dad has ever been called 'dude' before!" They were informed at the changing of the guard at the cemetery to watch the com- mander. At a certain point in Everett earns his wings on first flight at age 88. Dal en with ditty bag of last mail call. the ceremony, he slid his foot from the side to center posi- tion. This is a silent tribute to our nation's World War II vet- erans, they were told. The day ended with the plane touching down in Springfield at approximately 9 p.m. The weary soldiers had more sur- prises in store for them. Each soldier received the "last mail call" from our government. Their names were read along with their hometown, and a ditty bag full of mail solicited in advance was given to each one. Mr. Shellhammer received dozens of letters from students of Mt. Pulaski Grade School along with pictures drawn for him. In addition, letters from friends and family filled out the bag. Then they were escorted into the airport proper by a bag- pipe player. The airport was filled with greeters all honor- ing the returning veterans with signs, media and cheers, but most impressively with mili- tary from all branches of the service in full salute. I one of them were aware that the reception was in store. "It was great," Dalen beamed. "So many people!" [If you would like to find out more about the charitable organization, Honor Flight, go to www.honorflight.org, For Central Illinois, check out www.lincolnlandhon0rflight.org.] Group Photo - 104 WWII veterans from Cen- tral Illinois' Lincolnland Honor Flight, April 28, 2010, Photos - Melissa Shellhammer Kwit Legion Donation Mt. Pulaski An~erican Legion Auxiliary Unit 447 and Mt. Pulaski SAL Squadron 447 recently donated several hun- dreds of dollars in Wal-Mart Cards and gas cards to the Decatur Veterans Commu- nity-Based Outpatient Clinic located on Mound Rd. in Deca- tur. This Decatur facility is an outreach facility of the Dan- ville Veteran's Clinic. The Decatur Veteran's Com- munity Based Facility offers... e rPrism na%Ca e ea u C:rSfOr vet- Behavioral Health services. Personal Care: Highly qual- ified primary care providers. specialty care referrals to the VA Illiana Health Care System. A new eye clinic is being readied. The Danville Illiana Health Care Veteran's facility has the following services: VA Illiana Health Care System (VAIHCS) provides pri- mary, secondary, medical and surgical care, acute psychiat- ric care, extended long-term care and skilled nursing home care including Rehabilitation, Alzheimers and PalliativeCare to veterans primarily residing in central Illinois and west cen- tral Indiana. VAIHCS offers a full cadre of ambulatory care including mental health and substance abuse services. There are 401 authorized beds including 223 nursing home beds in the facility. VAIHCS is also responsible for the healthcare services offered at Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Peoria, Decatur. Springfield, and West Lafayette. Indiana. The population of veterans in the service area is approxi- mately 150,000.