Dale VanBlair never talked much about his experience as a tail gunner during World War II when he was an English teacher at Belleville District 201. However, the 94-year-old Belleville man doesn’t mind talking about the war when asked about it.
He can often be found chatting with employees at Chick-fil-A at Green Mount Commons about his life. He eats lunch twice a week at the restaurant, which will host a book signing for VanBlair on Thursday.
VanBlair wrote a book, “Looking Back: A Tail Gunner’s View of WWII,” which details his days in Europe. He’ll be on hand to sign copies of the book and speak about his experiences.
Tracey Holmes, marketing director for Chick-fil-A at Green Mount Commons, described VanBlair as a “fascinating guy. We love Dale. He’s a great guy. We thought it was something nice to do for him,” she said of hosting the book signing. “He was super excited about it.”
“They have been really nice to me,” he said of the employees at Chick-fil-A, who give him a free cookie whenever he comes in.
Want to meet VanBlair? He’ll be at Chick-fil-A at Green Mount Commons from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday signing copies of his book.
Learn more about VanBlair in this Saturday’s print edition of the Belleville News-Democrat.