GREENWOOD, SC – Veterans from every major conflict from WWII to the present were honored at Emerald Baptist Church Saturday evening with a musical program and spaghetti supper.
The event was a fundraiser for Honor Flight, an organization whose mission is to get WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., so they can visit the memorial erected in their honor. It takes about $1,000 to fly a veteran and their chaperone to Washington, D.C., for the day to visit the memorial. The goal Emerald Baptist was raise $2,000, enough for two veterans and their chaperones to make the day trip. The met and exceeded that goal, raising about $2,200 for the organization.
Curt Eidson, pastor of Emerald Baptist Church, took a few moments to honor veterans of both WWII and Vietnam in addition to recognizing the families of those currently serving the country around the world.
“Let me take just a moment and say ‘Thank you,’” Eidson told the veterans. “We appreciate your service and your sacrifice for our great nation.”
There were two WWII veterans on hand for the event, including Rev. Wade Burton. The 86-year-old Burton spent two years as machine gunner in the Navy beginning at age 17, manning his .30 caliber machine gun while marines stormed beaches in the south Pacific. Burton is more known in Greenwood for serving as the pastor at several local churches, including Coronca Baptist Church, Woodfields Baptist Church and Siloam Baptist Church.
“I was having flashbacks in there,” Burton said through tears. “This is a fantastic thing they’re doing here. It shows how people, young and old, unite to do whatever it takes for our grandchildren.”
Burton said his wife woke him up from nightmares every night for 20 years after his experiences in WWII.
“I had the same nightmare every night,” Burton said. There would be Japanese snipers up in the trees shooting at my boat and my family would be on the boat with me. I had to defend them, but didn’t feel like I could keep us all alive.”
John McFadden, discipleship pastor at Northside Baptist Church, said he recently submitted paperwork for his father, J.N. McFadden, to receive an Honor Flight. McFadden’s father helped train pilots in Florida during WWII.
“We submitted the paperwork right after Christmas,” McFadden said. “We are waiting to hear back from them now. It’s a great program and I’m glad we could support it here tonight.”
Also on hand to serve those in attendance were the girls from American Heritage Girls Troop 7777. The girls acted as servers throughout the evening, refilling glasses, clearing plates and serving desserts. American Heritage Girls is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. The organization offers badge programs, service projects, girl leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences to its members.
100% of the money raised will go directly to Honor Flight Upstate.