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WWII Navy veteran with terminal illness honored for his service with special escort

Posted: 5:49 PM, Jun 07, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-08 05:24:25-04

A World War II veteran battling a terminal illness received a special escort to the National World War I Museum on Wednesday.

Donald Starcher, 87, enlisted in the Navy when he was just 15 years old by crumbling up his birth certificate and hiding his age from recruiters.

His family told 41 Action News that he fondly remembers his time in the military.

"He went in the military early," said Starcher's daughter, Linda. "He looks on those years in the service as wonderful."

More than 70 years later, Starcher often visits the National World War I Museum as a way to look back on military history.

His trip to the site on Wednesday was one unlike any other he has taken.

Around 10 a.m., a group of veterans with the Patriot Guard showed up at Starcher's home on a fleet of motorcycles.

The veterans took turns thanking Starcher for his service before lining up to salute him.

The group then rode together for the trek to the museum, with Starcher riding in a World War II-style side car motorcycle.

With flags waiving, music playing, and cheers, a group welcomed Starcher outside the museum when the motorcycle group arrived.

The World War II veteran was also awarded a medal for his service.

Starcher was later treated to a tour of the museum and lunch.

Following the special morning, Starcher spoke to 41 Action News about the joy of being honored.

"I was stunned that all those motorcycles came down," he said. "It was the first time since I got out that I had ever seen anything like this."

Wednesday's special escort and recognition ceremony was organized by Crossroads Hospice through the Gift of a Day, Vet-to-Vet, and Veterans Recognition programs.