More than 700 people turned out Thursday to pay tribute to WWII veteran Delbert Belton as he was laid to rest a week after he was beaten and left for dead.
The story of Belton's murder has dominated the headlines for the last week, but on Thursday it was all about saying goodbye in a service full of prayers, laughter and full military honors at Greenwood Memorial Terrace.
Friends and many people who had never met him came to honor Belton. His grave marker indicates he was a WWII veteran, a Purple Heart recipient and died at the age of 88.
The grave marker, however, doesn't tell Shorty's story. He loved to dance and never missed an opportunity to get on the floor. He loved spending time with his friends, who nicknamed him Shorty because he was 5'5". His friends joked he shrunk with age.
"He had a special place in his heart for everyone," Linda Herde said.
He also loved working on cars, which is why the funeral director brought him to his final resting place in a 1939 hearse.
He was also a soldier, a survivor of the Battle of Okinawa, wounded in action during that action against the Japanese.
"He never had a frown on his face. He was like the first to help anybody out when they needed help. It's just tragic this is how it ends for him," Shorty's friend Bobby Rotter said.
The story of his tragic beating and death has stirred the community and country; people came from all over to his funeral, many of whom had never met Shorty.
"I wanted to stand in with the honor of the Patriot Guard, and at the same time represent the American Indians who fought in the war as well to honor Shorty," veteran Jim Gavras said.
The song "We'll Meet Again" was specially picked for Shorty and sung at his service, a song he might've danced to before leaving for the war in the Pacific and when he returned home; a song that once again sent him on his way when all people want was to see him come back.
Another memorial service will be held for Shorty Friday at 2 p.m. Friday at the North Hill Christian Church.
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