SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 17, 2014

Decorated Danvers WWII veteran will board honor flight to Washington

DANVERS — Robert Flachbart had quite a vantage point in World War II, serving as an Army infantryman in North Africa and Italy and then as a courier for Gen. George Marshall, the Army chief of staff for whom the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe was named.

Flachbart, a Peabody native, was wounded twice in Italy, and the second time was left behind enemy lines in Anzio. With no food, he slept in ditches during the day and moved only at night to get back behind Allied lines. He earned the Silver Star — the Army’s third-highest medal for valor — a Bronze Star and at least two Purple Hearts.

In recognition of his distinguished service, Flachbart, who is now 94, will take an Honor Flight New England trip to Washington, D.C., tomorrow. The nonprofit takes veterans from World War II to see national war memorials, at no cost. There’s an urgency to this mission, as Honor Flight estimates 1,000 veterans from World War II die each day.

A breakfast at the State Police barracks at Logan Airport will be followed by a flight to Baltimore and a police escort to the nation’s capital with other World War II veterans.

Flachbart will be escorted by Marblehead police Chief Robert Picariello, who is related to Flachbart through marriage.

“It’s going to be a sad trip,” said Flachbart, sitting in the living room of his home in the Woodvale neighborhood in Danvers yesterday with his second wife, Judy. Flachbart said he is both appreciative and apprehensive about the trip. He suffered from battle fatigue, he said, and loud noises can still startle him.

Beyond that, the trip will be bittersweet because during the later years of the war, Washington became a happy place for Flachbart and his new wife, Mary Alice. They were married for 39 years before she died from cancer in 1984. She was a local girl serving as a Coast Guard chief petty officer in Washington when the two met, came home to get married, and then lived in the nation’s capital.

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