'Honor Flight' movie stirs World War II memories for Navy Corpsman

News-DemocratNovember 10, 2013 

Veterans and patriots came to a screening of the film Honor Flight Sunday at the O'Fallon 15 Cine. Veterans were treated to a free screening of the film and were greeted by O'Fallon High School ROTC students who lined a red carpet as the attendees entered.

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— Charles Bevirt was a 20-year-old Navy Corpsman stationed at a base hospital on the island of Peleliu in 1944.

Bevirt, now 88, spent Sunday afternoon watching a documentary called "Honor Flight: The Movie" with his wife Mary Helen and son Jeff, who accompanied him two years ago when he took an honor flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

At first, Bevirt didn't want to take the trip.

"I didn't do anything," Bevirt said. "Those guys, those guys in the movie, they did something."

Bevirt referred to Joe Demler, an Army infantryman who was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in a German prison camp, and Harvey Kurz, a Navy sailor who witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.

Bevirt joined the Navy when he was 18. Three years later, he found himself on the island now known as Palau.

"The enemy was in the hills, then," Bevirt said.

Shots could be heard at night.

Bevirt treated survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis -- the ship that carried the atomic bomb -- when it was sank by Japanese torpedoes at the end of the war.

There were good days. He remembered an aunt fried pork sausage, Bevirt's favorite, and sent it to him on the island.

"That's a good memory," he said.

When the war was over, Bevirt returned home, married Mary Helen and went to work as a carpenter. The couple had three children, Gary, Joan and Jeff.

He didn't think much about World War II and resisted taking one of the honor flights, until some guys he played cards with urged him to go.

Jeff Bevirt accompanied his father.

"It was a wonderful thing," Jeff Bevirt said. "Anything you needed, they got it for you. It was all about these men and honoring their service."

The Bevirts son and grandson joined the Air Force. He served in Afghanistan.

"I was proud of him for doing that," Charles Bevirt said. "I didn't want him to go to Afghanistan, but I was proud."

As for his service, Charles Bevirt doesn't like to be called a hero.

"You see what other guys did and the ones that are buried over there, they are the heroes," Bevirt said. "... I respect all the guys who went over there before and the ones who are there now."

During his trip to Washington D.C., Bevirt was escorted by a female soldier. She told him where she was from -- Palau -- the island where Bevirt served as a corpsman during the war. She was about the same age as Bevirt when he was stationed there.

Things had come full circle, Bevirt said, and it gave him a good feeling.

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