BY CAROL HICKS
Glenn Brandenburg, 87, a Hoopeston World War II veteran, received word last week he would be on the Central Illinois Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., today and Friday to view the World War II Memorial.
The charter flight will leave Champaign early today.
“I signed up two years ago when I first heard about it,” Brandenburg said. “There were too many ahead of me then. Last week, I received a call to go.”
When asked if he could walk, Brandenburg said, “I can. I just don’t run and jump like I used to.”
Late last week, he was waiting for the papers to arrive from the Central Illinois Honor Flight organization with final instructions.
Brandenburg’s granddaughter, Stacey Lundgren Griffith, is ecstatic at the opportunity for her grandfather.
“It is really special that he got picked and he gets to do something like that,” she said. “We’re all so excited (for him). He’s an extra special guy!”
Brandenburg and Griffith have a special connection. They share the same birthday and traditionally share that day together, said Griffith.
According to the Central Illinois Honor Flight information, “One guardian will be required for each veteran that requires assistance with a cane, walker or wheelchair.
For those veterans who are mobile and can walk without assistance, one guardian will be assigned to groups of three veterans.” Guardians pay their own way to Washington, D.C. Veterans go for free.
Brandenburg was 18 when he enlisted in the Army and served in the 149th Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division, also known as the Cyclone Division.
The 38th first went to Australia, Brandenburg said, then to New Guinea. The division received further training in the Ora Bay area, from July to November 1944, according to the history of the 38th Division.
The division then moved to Leyte in the Philippines in December. Enemy paratroops tried unsuccessfully to capture the Buri, Bayug and San Pablo airstrips on Dec. 6, 1944, but the 149th destroyed resistance and defended the strips until relieved on Jan. 4, 1945.
By Jan. 29, 1945, the 38th Division landed in San Narciso area, Southern Zambales Province, Luzon without opposition, secured the San Marcelino airstrip, captured the Olongapo port on Jan. 30 and the Grande Island in Subic Bay.
Pushing west from Olongapo, the 38th destroyed enemy fortifications at Zig-Zag Pass, landed at Mariveles and continued down the east coast road to Pilar and Bagac along the route of the Bataan March of Death. The Bataan Peninsula was secured on Feb. 21, 1945. Corregidor was the 38th’s next assault. It effectively broke enemy opposition and continued mop-up duties in eastern Luzon until Victory in Japan Day.
The 38th Division’s efforts in the Philippines earned it the nickname of “The Avengers of Bataan” by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The next Honor Flight is Nov. 10-11, Veteran’s Day Mission with a charter flight from Decatur.