You can take a quick look at 89-year-old Charlie Tewell and see that he??s not a man given to emotional displays. But mention his Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial, and it immediately brings the shine of tears to his eyes.
??It was wonderful, something I??ll never forget,?? Tewell told me after a service honoring veterans at Holy Family School in Hannibal. ??It makes my eyes swell up and the tears come back.??
Like many of his fellow veterans, Tewell doesn??t talk a lot about his time in the Army . He says he gets together with the soldiers he served with once a year, and that??s the only time he??ll allow his memory to wander back to those days.
Tewell served three years in the South Pacific as an Infantryman. He came home with a chest pinned full of medals, including the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. It??s not the medals he gained, but the friends he lost that he remembers.
One particular battle lasted 15 days with Tewell and his friends taking heavy fire. The losses were enormous. 62-percent of Tewell??s fellow members of the L-company didn??t make it home.
When people show their gratitude for his service in the war, Tewell turns speechless. ??I just don??t know what to say. I mean, I appreciate it, but it was something I had to do.??