COLORADO SPRINGS — A procession honoring the life of fallen USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor survivor Donald Stratton has arrived in his hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska.
"I'm really hoping the family does take away this. we love you. We thank you for all that your father, uncle, brother.. has given to this country and what they did to allow us to have the freedom to live as well as we do here in America," said Andrew Gilbert, a retired Tech Sergeant with the American Legion Riders.
Saturday's procession began after a memorial service for Stratton at Rocky Mountain Calvary church. Where dozens showed up to pay their respects for the war hero.
"He was so friendly and open," said Mark Schafer, who met Stratton about a decade ago and remained in touch with the family over the years.
Like many, Schafer considered Stratton a hero "he'd say "I don't feel like a hero" and I'd tell him Don heroes aren't supposed to feel anything, what makes you a hero is how we feel about you," said Schafer.
Among the speakers at Stratton's memorial service included El Paso County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, and Joe Ann Taylor, the daughter of Joe George- a fellow shipmen Stratton credited with saving his life.
Stratton's story resonated with so many people across the nation. Including a young boy from North Carolina, Landon Knestrick. Knestrick and his mother also spoke at Saturday's service.
A teenager girl from Texas also made her way to Colorado Springs. Brooke Schocke, a sophomore in high school in the Dallas- Fort Worth area says she learned about the story of Pearl Harbor and wanted to meet a survivor. She met Stratton in 2018 and the couple of times she met him, made an impact on her.
"Over the course of those two meetings I constantly kept thanking him for his service and every single time I met him he said his famous line everyone had to be somewhere and that is just something that will always stick with me," said Schocke.