After a lengthy wait, a local World War II veteran has finally been given the opportunity to visit a national monument paying homage to his service.
Cecil "Zeke" Shobe, Brazil, will make a trip to Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, as part of a service which transports veterans to the District's War Memorial near the Lincoln Monument. Shobe, along with his wife Mary, have never been to the monument and said he is eager to experience it first-hand.
"I would like to see it," Shobe said. "I think this will be a good opportunity."
Shobe, who will be 96 Aug. 30, served as a sailor aboard a Navy Destroyer in the Caribbean during the war. His experiences included surviving a torpedo attack.
Shobe's mission to earn a trip to the monument has been ongoing for the past three years.
It began when Lowell Suttman, husband to Shobe's niece Arlene Suttman, attempted to get his name on an honor flight list, which was set up by the Department of Veterans Affairs, based in Springfield, Ohio. After making little headway, Suttman, who lives in Miamisburgh, Ohio, was encouraged to put his uncle-in-law's name on a similar list in Indianapolis, told he would likely see quicker results trying to get things moving in his home state.
Suttman, who will serve as Shobe's chaperone, will make the trip with 60-70 other veterans to visit the memorial. Aside from the World War II, the memorial also pays tribute to veterans of other wars, including Korea and Vietnam.
Participants will take off from Columbus, Ohio, in the morning, visit the memorial and will be taken out for a meal before flying home.
Suttman, who served as a Tank Gunner in Korea, said he has been to the memorial three times and was eager to bring a close relative along with him.
"It's a very moving experience," Suttman said. "'Zeke' is a wonderful guy and I'm very excited I get to see it with him."
When asked if the experience would be more enjoyable with Suttman's accompaniment, Shobe said "definitely."
Suttman said he is familiar with the process the Department of Veterans Affairs takes, and added it not only gives the honorees an opportunity they may not have had to see the monument, but also serves as a great living tribute to survivors of battle.
"What makes this program so great is that everyone knows who these people are and why they are (visiting the memorial)," Suttman said. "They are applauded on the plane and when they get to D.C., and it really gives more significance to the whole thing."