WASHINGTON D.C. — Most stories about war veterans hit on similar themes: facing danger, dodging death or losing friends. But the Utah Honor Flight believes all veterans had a part to play, whether they served overseas and saw combat or served at home.
"I didn't get shot at very much, and I didn't shoot anybody," said World War II veteran Richard Bean. "I was an airplane mechanic."
Like millions of others who served in World War II, Bean wasn't drafted.
"There was only one thing to do," he said. "I mean, I had red blood in my veins. I worked at Lockheed. I was building airplanes for the Army. I could have got a deferment because of that, but I couldn't stand the thought of being deferred and having my friends and others do my work for me over there."
Much like Bean, Navy veteran Hal Platt couldn't wait to enter the service.
"I wanted to get into the service when I got out of high school," he said. "But my twin brother and I were the only ones who were left on our little farm because my two older brothers had gone into service.
"The draft board said 'No, you guys stay here on this farm because we need you there.' So we stayed there a year, and then told mother, 'Sell this darn farm or lease it because we're going in the Navy.'"
Like many veterans of World War II, Ben Cogdill doesn't think he was in a lot of danger.
"I guess I was scared, but I never really saw any action," he said. "I was on Iwo Jima, I came in a little late, and I wasn't there long. We brought a troop of Marines in. They got off when we anchored. They went right into the beach and went into the war."
Cogdill was the ship's cook, a job he says had benefits.
"I could get anything I wanted," he laughed.
World War II was truly a conflict involving all members of American society. Women rushed to serve, just as men did.
Marjorie Campbell was one of those women. She did office work in Maryland and had a very specific reason in mind when she joined the Navy.
"We were going to get married after the war," she said, speaking of her boyfriend at the time. "But he was a bombardier on a B-24, and his plane went down, first trip over Germany. So I decided I would finish out his commitment and join the service."
In a war that encompassed the entire world, it wasn't just combat veterans who helped lead the country to victory. That fact isn't lost on people like Campbell, who remains every proud of her service.
"I love this country," she said. "I get very emotional even when I see the flag and when I hear 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' It brings tears to my eyes. It is such a privilege to live here in this beautiful land."
If you'd like to help a veteran apply for a free trip to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials, visit utahhonorflight.org.