Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

October 18, 2013

WWII vet enjoys ‘Heroes Flight’


Thomas L. Shafer said for the most part, he had a fantastic time visiting Washington, D.C. during the Oct. 10-12  "Heroes Flight" he took with 29 fellow World War II veterans.

He had only one complaint and there was nothing his hosts could have done about it: It took place during the recent United States government shutdown that ran Oct. 1 through Thursday.

"It was a big disgrace for our country — but it didn't really cause a big disruption for us," the 88-year-old said Thursday. "Other than that, we had a great time. There were a few blockades in places but they quickly went away whenever we walked up."

Shafer was one of 30 area WWII veterans invited to visit the World War II Memorial and other sites in a trip sponsored by Brookshire's Grocery Co., an East Texas-based regional chain.

Without this opportunity, many of the veterans now in their 80s and 90s might never have had the chance to make such a journey, officials said.

Shafer — who last saw combat with the U.S. Army nearly 70 years ago — earned both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in service to his country.

He served as a U.S. Army private first class in the Second Battalion, 311th Regiment, 78th Infantry Division in the European theater. Between September 1944 and August 1946, Shafer saw combat — such as the Battle of Ruhr Pocket, Remagen, Rhineland and Black Forest — several times.

 “Heroes Flight” is considered one of Brookshire's largest community service efforts. As many as 195 veterans have participated in similar trips so far.

It is the seventh such trip since spring 2010. Brookshire's employees and community leaders are appointed as special guardians to help the GIs during this trip.

And it is absolutely free to the veterans. Brookshire's pays for all costs.

In addition to the trips to the World War II Memorial and tour of the U.S. Capitol, the group visited landmarks such as the Vietnam, Lincoln, Navy and Air Force Memorials.

They also attended the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  

"The changing of the guard, that was nice," Shafer said. "They moved the barricades and let the veterans and anyone else who wanted to in."

U.S. Rep Louie Gohmert, R-Texas led the way for most of the trip, Shafer explained.

"Louie Gohmert probably sat with us for four hours," Shafer said. "He spoke to us and we had dinner at the capital building — a catered dinner."

The group's time with Gohmert involved a thorough tour of the capital, which included the senate building.

"We got a little rundown of all the presidents from George Washington on up through George Bush," he said.

Shafer said the federal government shutdown didn't really impede the tour other than the barricades put up in some places and the unavailability of restrooms and water fountains in others.

"I think the Washington monument was closed and maybe one or two others but it was  really neat trip," Shafer said. "The great thing is, it cost us nothing. Everything was paid for by Brookshire's. I think there were I think 26 support people, If someone so much as dropped a napkin there was someone there to pick it up."


Text Only
Local News
  • Cuney Council cancels meeting, again

    Tuesday's Cuney City Council meeting – in which local alderman were to vote on canceling a May 10 election due to unopposed status of candidates – was canceled because of a lack of quorum, according to City Secretary Brenda Lankford.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sen. Nichols speaking.tif Senator Nichols speaks to Jacksonville Leadership Institute

    State Senator Robert Nichols (R) spoke to the Jacksonville Leadership Institute Tuesday regarding the role of government in Texas.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jacob.tif Local boy recovering from campfire accident in Dallas hospital

    Jacob Sessions of Jacksonville was burned on 71 percent of his body on April 5 from a campfire accident. He is currently in Parkland ICU due to his injuries, according to a representative for the family.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • THOMPSON, CEDRICK.tif Cherokee County woman found dead

    At approximately 9:35 a.m. Sunday,  Kayla Nicole Thompson, 27, was found deceased in the driveway of her residence, located in the 1500 block of County Road 3201,  just West of Lake Jacksonville.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • BullardFUNRUN.tif Bullard Education Foundation sets record with event

    The Bullard Education Foundation hosted its 4th annual 5K /Fun Run, “Strides for Excellence” on Saturday morning, April 19.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire destroys Sims Avenue residence

    Jacksonville Fire Department responded to a fire in the 900 block of Sims Avenue early Saturday.

    April 22, 2014

  • Community library on council agenda

    The Bullard City Council will met at 6 p.m. today at Bullard First Baptist Church, 1428 S. Houston, for the regular board meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • Council to mull election, roads

    The Cuney City Council will meet at 10 a.m. today at the Cuney Municipal Building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Christian Rapper 0419.tif Local rap artist spreads the 411 on Jesus

    "I have seen things in my life that would make Dr. Phil crazy," Jacksonville native, ordained minister and aspiring rap artist Stephen I. Crow Jr. said with a laugh. "That's why I don't label my music specifically as "Christian rap" -- yes, Christians who love rap can listen and hopefully be uplifted, but I truly want and am trying to bring the word and Jesus' message to people who may never have heard it or don't believe it's for them.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tomato Bowl flushed to bottom of priorities

    The historic Tomato Bowl, built in 1940, stands strong on the outside, but according to some people the inside needs a lot of work in order to not be an eyesore.

    April 19, 2014