William R. Courtney

By: Janice Gibbs | Staff | Temple Daily Telegram

Carl Knight, Joseph Novembre and John Marshall will be among the 63 World War II veterans on today’s Honor Flight out of Austin, heading to Washington, D.C.

Knight, Novembre and Marshall are residents of the William R. Courtney State Veterans Home in Temple.

This is the 29th Honor Flight that has taken more than 750 World War II veterans handled by the Austin team, said Steve Quakenbush, volunteer director of public relations for Honor Flight Austin.

Austin is one of seven honor flight hubs in Texas.

Doing this for these veterans is what gets the helpers out of bed in the morning with big smiles on their faces, he said.

“This is a labor of love,” Quakenbush said.

“This is exciting,” Marshall said Thursday about the trip. “I’ve never been there and I’ll get to see the Capitol and the White House.”

He’s looking forward to seeing the World War II Memorial and hopes to see the National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Marshall, 95, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945 as a navigator in the 2536th Army Air Force Base Unit. The last plane he served on was a B-29 Superfortress.

Marshall said he felt like it was his duty to join the armed forces.

“We were in danger and everything I had I wanted to offer,” he said. “I didn’t care where, when or why.”

Marshall didn’t go overseas during the war, but saw a lot of the United States.

When he was called up to active duty, he was given a choice of locations: Biloxi, Miss., Jefferson Barracks, Mo., or Miami Beach, Fla.

“It was winter time so I selected Miami, I couldn’t help it,” he said.

The soldiers were in a hotel next to the ocean, said Marshall, who was 22 at the time.

When Marshall left the service, he returned to Chicago and he and his father opened a Kaiser-Frazer auto dealership.

He married a girl from Dallas and the couple lasted one winter in Chicago. They moved to Dallas in 1950 and he became a home builder.

“I built houses for 40 years,” he said. “I watched Dallas grow up.”

Marshall has lived at the veterans home for nine months. His four daughters and their children live in the Temple area.

Carl Knight, 98, was 26 years old when he joined the Army on Feb. 25, 1942. He served 42 months, 34 of which were overseas.

He served in the Pacific as a rifleman with the 160th Infantry. He served in a number of locales, including New Guinea, New Britain, Guadalcanal and the Philippines.

Knight said he joined up to fight the Japanese.

“They tore up our ships and we wanted to get back at them,” Knight said.

After he left the service, Knight and his wife traveled to Wharton to visit his sister and on to Galveston so his wife could see the Gulf of Mexico.

He decided to look for a job and ended up living in Texas City, working at a tin smelter for a number of years.

Knight said he’s looking forward to the trip to Washington, D.C.

“I always wanted to go, I’ve never been to Washington,” he said.

Knight has lived at the veterans home since March. He spends much of his day outside on the patio.

“I’ve always been real active,” he said.

He broke his leg at age 97. The day before he had mowed his yard.

“When I retired in 1968, I never sat down,” Knight said.

Joseph Novembre, 89, was drafted into the Army and served from 1943 to 1946.

Novembre served the majority of his time in France.

He trained as a rifleman, but first went to quartermaster school. In civilian life, Novembre took that training and worked as a baker.

“You never know what was going to happen and you have to be on alert,” he said of serving during the war. “We were holding ground.”

While in the middle of the action the typical soldier doesn’t grasp the big picture. Novembre said he was playing a role in keeping the Germans from getting to Paris, but didn’t know that at the time.

Originally from New Jersey, Novembre has lived at the veterans home from one to two years. His son lives in Belton.

“I was proud to serve, though my parents didn’t care for that stuff,” Novembre said. “I didn’t know what was going on until I got in there.”

There were some bad moments, he said, but he eventually realized the experience was an education.

Novembre considers himself lucky, having served during dangerous time and still being able to get home and go on with his life.

He’s very excited about the trip to Washington, D.C., and is curious to see all the sights.

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. Veterans are taken to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans — World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.