WHITLEY CITY —
Scott Vanderpool calls the trip a highlight of his life.
The 85-year-old World War II veteran was among 25 Kentucky veterans selected to visit military memorials in Washington, D.C.
The Bluegrass Chapter of the Honor Flight Network arranged the October 6 trip free of charge through sponsorships with 16 electric cooperatives, including South Kentucky RECC which sponsored Van-derpool. The day-long trip included tours of the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Iwo Jima Monument as well as the Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery.
The World War II Memorial pays tribute to the 16 million who served in the United States Armed Forces during the war, the 400,000-plus who died and all who supported the war effort on the home front. The memorial is flanked by the Washington Monu-ment to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.
“The memorial is breathtaking and rep-resents freedom for America and the world,” Ruby Patterson, SKRECC Vice President of Member Services and Marketing, stated. “It was an honor for us to sponsor these heroes.”
Vanderpool was selected after his son, Russell “Tommy” Vanderpool, saw the Bluegrass Honor Flight advertised in a magazine and applied on his behalf. His son also accompanied him on the trip.
“I never dreamed about being picked to go,” the elder Vanderpool said, until he was contacted by SKRECC. It was his first trip to our nation’s capital.
“It was an out-standing trip,” Vander-pool said. “Everyone was so warm. People would come up to you and wanted pictures.”
A particular thrill for Vanderpool was meet-ing retired U.S. Senator Bob Dole, who greeted the vets along with wife Elizabeth as they arrived at the World War II Memorial. At the end of the day, the former soldiers were treated with “mail call” — receiving letters from co-op staff and students from schools in their area.
“Mail calls was always something we looked forward to when we were serving overseas,” Vanderpool said. “I’ve read them all, and I’m going to reply to all that have a return address.”
He was also im-pressed by the uni-formed cadets from the U.S. Naval Academy who greeted the group at Baltimore Inter-national Airport. As they returned to Louisville that Satur-day evening, they were also greeted by hundreds of flag-waving family, friends and co-op employees packed into the terminal.
Patterson said, “We all owe these veterans a profound debt. South Kentucky RECC is honored to have had the opportunity to say, in one small way, ‘thank you.’ As Will Rogers once said, ‘We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.’ That’s what we’re doing to honor these veterans.”
Vanderpool, a native of Garrard County, was drafted into the United States Army in July 1945 at the age of 18. Training in Texas, he served in Virginia, New York and France before being stationed in Germany as part of the 47th Infantry. Over the course of a year in Germany, Vanderpool guarded prisoners at Dauchau and the ship docks in the port city of Bremerhaven. He was honorably dis-charged in January 1947.
Though happy to be home, Vanderpool had to leave the county of his birth to find work. It was up north where he met and fell in love with Kinsella York, who was born in the McCreary mining camp of Fidelity. The couple married on December 20, 1949.
Upon their retire-ment, the Vanderpools settled in Whitley City but Mr. Vanderpool quickly found that retirement did not suit him. Working first at Lumber King, he eventually found his niche at the McCreary County Water District.
And while he has once again retired, Vanderpool remains active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5127 where he serves as chaplain.
The Honor Flight sponsored by Ken-tucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is part of a larger national network that has 106 hubs, or chapters, in 38 states. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May 2005, when six small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio, ta-king 12 veterans. In May 2008, Southwest Airlines stepped up by donating thousands of tickets, and was named the network’s official commercial carrier.
For veterans of World War II or the Korean War who are interested in being on an Honor Flight, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.com for information and an application.
Already, another Honor Flight sponsored by South Kentucky RECC and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives is being planned for next year.
Vanderpool travels to Washington with veterans tour
WHITLEY CITY —
Scott Vanderpool calls the trip a highlight of his life.
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