WINNSBORO — One of Fairfield County’s finest was among those honored Sept. 26 thanks to contributions from the Fairfield County Electric Cooperative. Bill Jordan, of White Oak, was the lone veteran from the county to make a special journey.
Once Jordan, and men like him, served as our guardians defending this nation during World War, too, but now World War II veterans are being awarded guardians of their own who accompany them on honor flights to our nation’s capital.
Jordan said it was a well-planned, enjoyable trip.
He and 85 fellow veterans visited the World War II Memorial, as well as the Lincoln and Korean Memorials, the Pentagon, the Washington Monument and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Jordan was impressed by the scope of the World War II Memorial.
“The whole thing is impressive,” he said. “The whole country is represented with the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on each end and with one post per state.”
A wreath signified the industrial and agricultural support from the home front and there were many fountains that had inscriptions on them about the war.
Jordan said the artist who designed the monument really understood the time period, even picking up on a practical joke of the saying Killroy was here showing up in random places around the war front and on military bases. That saying is included in an out of the way spot in the memorial as well.
Jordan was moved by the display of stars, with one star representing each 100,000 soldiers who were killed in the war.
Politicians and a band greeted the veterans when they arrived in the capital. On arrival in the Columbia airport, he said the an Army band, an ROTC unit and others greeted them.
“My guardian,REA employee Roy McCracken,took good care of me,” Jordan said.
McCraken was patient and carried Jordan’s bag and jacket that day, something that meant a lot to the 92-year-old who admitted he became tired as the day wore on. Still, he said he was grateful to be doing so well compared to some of the veterans there who had to use wheelchairs to get around. Jordan is still quite spry for his age.
He volunteered at age 22 to join the U.S. Army. Jordan served in the Army four years at Fort McClellan in Alabama.
Jordan also helped determine which branch of the service the draftees were best suited for.
He served from 1942-46. After the birth of his first child, he had accumulated enough points that he could get out of the service, so he was discharged in January and returned home to Georgia.
He worked for a wholesale hardware center and travelled doing sales for them for twelve years.
During that time Jordan was frugal and saved his money so he could open up a community hardware store in Augusta, Ga.
He ran the business 30 years before selling it at age 63.
Jordan graduated with a liberal arts degree from North Georgia College and State University and graduated in 1940and he thinks that is why he did not have to go through formalized basic training like other recruits.
North Georgia has placed more generals in the Army than any other school besides West Point, he said with pride.
When he joined the Army he said he worked seven days a week for the first six months. that is how busy the nation was readying young men to be deployed as troops on the front lines.
He would help process busloads of people, 50 or 60 at a time.
“I had a private room. The fort had permanent buildings and up-to-date kitchens,” he said. “We were served garrison rations, the highest quality, so I had steak among other things.”
Straight out of college Jordan worked as an assistant to the station agent at a railroad. He took train orders, helped with shipping logistics, and helped notify engineers when a new train was coming down the tracks.
He moved to Winnsboro to be close to his daughter, Elizabeth Patrick, who married a local doctor.
Jordan helps his wife around the house with cooking, yard work and house work and he optimistically started a backyard orchard when he was 90 years old containing, among other things, blueberries, plums, pears, figs, cherries, peaches, pecans, grapes and blackberries.
Last year, he finished in a three way tie for first place at the State Fair for his famous barbecue sauce.
He has been a member of the American Legion for over 60 years and member of the Lions Club for 45 years.
“The WW II Memorial is state-of-the-art and impressive. Every state is represented. Any number of people walked up and commended me for my service to this country,” he said.
Nineteen electric cooperatives joined Honor Flight of South Carolina to fly 85 veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial built in their honor and other historic sites.
“This is a generation of people who are leaving us too quickly,” said Bill Dukes, Honor Flight of South Carolina president. “Their average age is over 88, so it’s important that we honor them before we lose that opportunity.”
In fact the oldest vet on this trip was 94, the youngest 82.
The trip, free to the veterans and paid for by 19 electric cooperatives in South Carolina, was part of a series of flights organized by Honor Flight of South Carolina, which has been arranging flights for veterans since 2008.
This trip adds to the more than 81,000 veterans nationwide who have taken honor flights since 2005, when a small group of Ohio vets were ferried to Washington, D.C., in private planes.