A unique way to honor fallen soldiers of WWII - WDRB 41 Louisville News

A unique way to honor fallen soldiers of WWII

More than 16 million men and women were in the armed forces during World War Two, and it's estimated those veterans are now dying at a rate of more than a thousand every day.
One veteran from Louisville who survived the war - now in his 80s - is making a most unusual last request.
Donnie Scheer was just 17 when he enlisted in the Navy to do his part fighting World War Two. By 1944, as a 20-year-old Seaman First Class, Scheer found himself landing fighter planes aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton. Then came the largest naval battle in history - the Battle of Leyte Gulf, off the Philippine Islands, on October 24th 1944.
Scheer says, "We were in battle that day but we still had to land the planes, 'cause they were out of fuel. Somebody said "Look up, here comes one!" And it ws a Japanese dive bomber. And he dropped a bomb on us, and it hit forward of the after elevator."
Explosions ripped apart the carrier, and the cruiser Birmingham alongside. The sinking would become the central event in all of Scheer's 83 years.
Scheer remembers, "It just started exploding, and then all of a sudden the captain said 'abandon ship, abandon ship.' Twice he said that, and I said 'Oh my God.' And I looked down and saw the waves coming over that thing, and I said 'I'll never see home again.'  That's what I said to myself. My mother didn't even know I was alive for ten days."
Hundreds of Scheer's shipmates were killed. Scheer has spent the last 65 years remembering them. And after he dies, he wants to honor them in a unique way. 
"Well, I want to be buried the same way them 358 men went down -- body and all. Just like they went down."
He wrote countless letters to federal officials saying "Many of our sailors and some of the USS Birmingham went down with the USS Princeton - 358 men died that day, with no funeral, no recognition at all."
He wants to be buried in a casket with holes and weights in it, and then dropped to the bottom of the sea, just like they did.
"That's my goal in life, my purpose, is to honor these fine young men that give their life for this country."
Scheer still carries the military-issued Bible he had in his pocket the day the Princeton was sunk. It's what has inspired him to arrange his own funeral as a sailors reunion, after all these years.
"All these gentlemen, young men that went down to the bottom of that sea --has never got to come home."
So Don Scheer will make his home with them.

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