Boy Scout Helping WWII Veterans Take 'Honor Flights'

Boy Scout Helping WWII Veterans Take 'Honor Flights'

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. -

From the beaches of Normandy to the islands of Okinawa, our World War II veterans have seen some of the farthest reaches of the globe.

But one sight they haven't seen: The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

FOX 29's Chris O'Connell sits down with a Chester County teen who's finding a way to thank our veterans in a very special way.

If you think a high school sophomore and an 88-year-old veteran wouldn't have a lot in common, think again.

When Joseph Blaisse was looking for his final Eagle Scout project, he thought of his two grandfathers, both veterans.

"There are so many World War II vets that live among us, and no one really acknowledges them much," said the 15-year-old from Chester County.

Blaisse, who goes to Archbishop Carroll High School, is leading a group of local Boy Scouts who will personally escort 125 World War II veterans from the Philadelphia area to the memorial in Washington.

It's part of nationwide program called The Honor Flight Network. This national non-profit organization transports veterans from all over the country to visit the World War II Memorial at no charge so they can once again be honored as America's greatest generation.

Blaisse will escort Al Cappelli, of Berwyn, on the June 15 trip.

"I can't explain it. There's no higher respect than I have for this young man," said Cappelli. Cappelli served as a Staff Sergeant with the 101st Airborne for 44 months during the war.

"When I heard all these amazing stories from veterans like Mr. Cappelli, it just kind of resonated with me that we need to give them more than we normally do. They deserve so much more because they gave us everything they had," said Blaisse, who is hoping to make Eagle Scout in July.

"The first one there is a Bronze Star, this one is the Purple Heart..." Cappelli said as he spent time with Blaisse showing his army medals and telling war stories, like how he was the second Allied soldier to enter Adolf Hitler's famed Eagle's Nest Mountain retreat days before the war ended.

He's a hero in most of our eyes, but according to Cappelli, it's Joseph who should be commended for upholding the values of being a Boy Scout.

"This kid is the life of today and tomorrow. When a guy wears a uniform like that... He's a good looking kid," said Cappelli.

Cappelli had to be convinced to take the trip to see the Memorial. War injuries prevent him from getting around much, so he almost declined.

"I didn't think I'd want to waste a trip for all the rest of the people for just me to be pushed around," he said.

But that's why Joe is going to be there, as an all-day escort and a new life-long friend.

"I am trying to send kind of a message of service to people, giving them the idea that serving others instead of yourself is important in our society," said Blaisse.

The veterans will be given the VIP treatment in Washington. The itinerary includes stops at the Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

The trip will end up with a welcome home celebration at St. Kevin's Catholic Church/Social Center in Springfield, Delaware County.

To learn more about the Honor Flight Network, click here.

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