Cecil veterans travel to Statue of Liberty
Annual bus trip honors vets
— Imagine a large motor coach filled with Cecil County veterans who are escorted by Perryville Legion Riders all the way to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
That’s what happened to 56 veterans who participated in the seventh Honor Bus trip on Oct. 15.
“It was awesome,” said Chad Spengler, who joined the annual trip for the first time. “I had never been to the Statute of Liberty or Ellis Island, so that was great and they treated us so nice it was terrific.”
Spengler, 43, joined the Army National Guard in 1991 but was injured during basic training in a hurricane rescue operation. When Spengler signed up for the trip after seeing it posted on Facebook, it was already full.
“I was fourth on a waiting list and eventually got called,” he said.
Spengler enjoyed it so much, he’s hoping to go on the group’s next trip.
The annual, or if possible, semi-annual, trips for veterans are the idea of Susie Webster Campbell, a Chesapeake City resident whose grandfather served in World War II.
Only 12 veterans attended the first Honor Bus trip in 2009 when they visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. But now,
the trips have grown to nearly 60 veterans, some new and some returning.
“I have about 200 on my mailing list now,” Campbell said.
Walter Bouchelle, 72, joined the Honor Bus for the first time on the trek to the Statute of Liberty.
“It was great weather and I enjoyed being with my fellow veterans for my first visit there,” Bouchelle said.
Bouchelle is a U.S. Army vet who served from 1964 to 1968, with three years of that service in Germany. Bouchelle’s family owned the former Johnie’s Restaurant in North East.
Previous Honor Bus trips have taken the veterans to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and to several memorials in Washington, D.C.
“I want to be able to reach out to more veterans to offer this opportunity,” Campbell said.
Over the years, she has formed great partnerships with all of the veterans service organizations in Cecil County, some businesses and the Military Order of the Purple Hearts Chapter 703, which donate to this venture so that veterans can enjoy the trips at no cost to themselves.
Each veteran is provided with a T-shirt to commemorate the day as well as lunch and dinner and lots of memories.
This year’s donors include: Salute to Veterans donations, Chesapeake City, Purple Hearts Chapter 703, North East VFW Post 6027, Bob Webb, City Pharmacy and Perryville American Legion.
“It’s just a great feeling to be able to honor the veterans,” Campbell said.
The veterans appreciated being honored as well.
“She stood outside the bus and thanked each one of us for our service when we got back,” Bouchelle said. “That meant a lot to me.”
For additional information or to get on the mailing list for future trips, email Campbell at wscampbell@verizon. net.
Cecil veterans pose at Liberty Park, N.J., before boarding a ferry for the Statue of Liberty.
Cecil veterans rode a motor coach to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.