Hometown Hero says his volunteering is "right thing to do"

By Amanda Porterfield | aporterfield@wcia.com

Published 10/31 2013 02:08PM

Updated 12/12 2014 11:11AM

CHAMPAIGN -- The 21-gun salute, marching and folding the American flag. They're all part of a proper burial for those who have served our country. Color Guard members give up a lot to make those services special.

He's living up to the phrase "do unto others" by giving peace to his fellow veterans and their families. This Hometown Hero has been doing it for years. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield has more.

He and others do this strictly as volunteers, even though it takes as much effort as a regular 9-to-5, these guys don't get paid at all. Bill Anderson started volunteering for the Color Guard in his 70's. He's been doing it ever since.

Even though he's just shy of 90-years old, it's rare Bill Anderson gets to sit down and relax. He's a member of the VFW 5520 Color Guard and spends hours burying fallen heroes.

"War is hell. It absolutely is. People would not believe what we endured during World War II. They deserve what I can give them, or what our Color Guard can give them."

Anderson was an Army gunner on the front lines during World War II; a decorated veteran who had to leave many behind.

"I have a lot of buddies that got killed in World War II, that we didn't give them a military funeral. They were drug out and picked up by grave diggers and that was it. Of course, we didn't have time. Of course, you can't stop a war to bury your dead."

Every call he gets from a family asking for a military funeral comes first.

"Most every funeral that we do, some of the family comes up and thanks us. Nobody gets paid. It's strictly volunteer, but it does take money for uniforms, because you have to have shoes, pants, shirt, jackets."

Anderson says they rely on donations. They've slowed down because of the economy, but that hasn't stopped them and it won't. It's something Anderson says doesn't make them heroes, just people doing the right thing.

"The heroes are still over there and they have little white crosses."

To donate to the 5520 Color Guard call and leave a message:

Bill Anderson
(217) 356 - 4283

Jerry Penrod
(217) 369 - 6734

VFW Post 5520
(217) 356 - 2984 

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