BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Frank Turner takes a deep breath from the oxygen tube running under his nose, then his eyes spark. "I studied ROTC in high school, so I knew I didn't want to go in the Army," he said. That's all a 17-year-old boy in Texas needed to know back in the winter of 1943.
So Frank joined the Navy. The enlistment officer let Frank choose his own fate. "He said, 'Well, you have your choice. Do you want to go to San Diego or go to Chicago?'" Frank remembers. "And I said, 'That's about the stupidest question I ever heard. Who wants to go to Chicago in December?'"
So San Diego it was for Frank and a couple hundred other new enlistees. Frank's first day as a Navy man came on Christmas Day. "A lot of kids cried that night because they were not used to being away from home, especially on Christmas," he said.
Frank studied and mastered the Navy's latest technology, SONAR, then he shipped off to Guadalcanal. There, he helped build and protect safe harbors for ships and soldiers island-hopping toward Japan. Many of them never returned. "They were some of the finest young men I ever saw. Every one of them were good people," he said.
At 92-years-old and battling cancer, this may be Frank's last Veterans Day to honor those soldiers and shipmates of America's greatest generation. And Frank wanted to do it up right, in Arlington, with other World War II veterans. He got the chance through the Honor Flight Network, a group dedicated to bringing veterans to the capitol to visit the Armed Forces memorials and the men who died keeping this country safe.
Everything is free: the flight, the hotel, the meals, and the tour.
"I'm proud to be a veteran," Frank said from his rocking chair in Baton Rouge, "And if I had it to do over again, I'd do the same thing."