Our Town Hometown Hero keeps promise

By Amanda Porterfield | aporterfield@wcia.com

Published 07/21 2014 01:53PM

Updated 07/21 2014 01:56PM

GEORGETOWN -- Our Town is very proud of a World War II veteran. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield introduces us to this week's Hometown Hero.

No matter what time of day or what kind of mood he's in, if you say "hello" to Charlie Dukes, he'll say "Good morning" right back.

"He kept His work. I have to keep my word."

This dashing young man is Dukes back in 1944. He was a night gunner in World War II; part of a close-knit group of soldiers.

"I felt so lucky to have so many close friends. That's how great America was."

One night he lost many of those friends. To escape fire on the front lines, he hid in a foxhole, hoping and praying to survive.

"I laid there all night long and I said a simple prayer. 'God, if you allow me to see the sunrise, I'll say good morning for the rest of my life.' He kept His word. I have to keep my word."

Fast-forward 70 years. Dukes has written a book which has sold more than 6,000 copies. He also has a wall full of honors he's gotten from schools where he's told stories of war.

"I do it because of the reports I get back from the students. What my talk has meant to them."

He's spoken to thousands of kids across Central Illinois and had a museum of war memorabilia in his home. At 91-years old, he was going to quit sharing his story, but realized, even this late in life, he's helping young people have a good morning.

"There have been a couple of cases where people say my book saved their life. And, they felt if I could survive what I survived, they could survive their problems."

Dukes has a Purple Heart along with other medals for his contributions to the war.

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