Charles Bare, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, was eagerly waiting by the front door of his Frederick home on Saturday morning.
When he saw about a dozen motorcycles pull up in front of his house, he grabbed the shadow box he had made to hold the medals he was awarded for his service, including a bronze star. Bare greeted the American Legion Francis Scott Key Post 11 riders as they walked up to his porch. The U.S. Army aerial photographer's eyes filled with pride and honor at the sight of the group of other veterans making a visit to his home.
The legion riders' stop at Bare's house was part of their initiative to offer free lifetime memberships to all WWII veterans. They stopped by the homes of 10 WWII veterans on Saturday to hand-deliver their new membership cards. The visits were all a surprise.
"We just thought that these WWII veterans, most of them are in their 90s, and a lot of them don't get a chance to see anybody," said Curt Harper, president of the legion riders. "They don't have much family. They're alone. So, for us just to show up as a group like this, it puts a big smile on their face. And they're very grateful for us doing this."
Harper said the veterans love telling stories of their time in the service, adding it's important to listen to those first-hand accounts while the generation is still around.
"They all wanna tell us at least one story," said Harper. "If we stood there all day, they would talk to us all day [about] their stories."
After Bare brought out a picture of a younger version of himself posing in front of a war plane and his pristinely kept Army uniform shirt, he regaled the group with a story about a radio battery case saving his life.
"I was carrying a field pack radio and caught a bullet in the battery case," he said. "The only way I knew it was, the sergeant said to me, 'Have you contacted headquarters yet?' I said, 'I tried a couple times, but it wouldn't work.'
"I said, 'Maybe it's got a loose connection.' He walked around and looked at the pack and says, 'You got more than a bad connection. You got a bullet hole in your battery."
The group's visit to U.S. Navy veteran James Carr's home was a complete surprise. When he answered the door, he smiled and said, "You got a whole crew here."
After Harper explained to Carr they were delivering his free membership card, he quickly said, "Hold on one second." He came out with a Navy veteran hat and a large grin to celebratory cheers from the crowd.
The riders gave Carr an honorary salute on his porch.
"I really appreciate it," Carr said. "Love you all."
Follow Hannah Dellinger on Twitter: @hdellingermedia. ___
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