Tribute by Jeff Van Pelt

Our United States is filled with people who fall into two categories, The "givers" and the "takers". The "givers" being men and women who use their God-given talents to make this world of ours a better place to live. And the "takers" those that abuse their government to get things that they don't deserve.

Today, a giver has gone to his final resting-place, his work done, and done well. Champ McDaniel gave his full measure of effort in every task that he was given, as well as those tasks he volunteered to undertake.

To even begin to list his achievements would be a long and dauntless task. And with that in mind let us, together, take a look at an instance or two that will quickly illustrate the spirit of Champ McDaniel.

On the 26th of February 1945 Champ McDaniel, the Company commander of Charlie Company, covered the withdraw of his Marines from an ash covered hill at Iwo Jima. It would have been easy to say "fall back" and safely take care of himself. But that would not have been Champ McDaniel. Instead he faced the advancing enemy, and fought, sometimes hand to hand, to protect his men as they withdrew from their position. In receiving the Navy Cross for his heroic actions Champ thought not of himself, but of the men of Company "C". He proclaimed those men to be the best and bravest. That is the kind of man it is easy to love and admire.

After losing his arm while doing his best to do his duty, he wired his wife-to-be. In his wire he tried to call off their engagement. He did not want Betty Van Pelt burdened with caring for a man with only one arm. Fortunately for all of us, as well as Champ, he had found a woman with a "little polish to her metal". When he arrived back in the United States Betty was there to tell him something like "Look here buster, you are not going to get rid of me as easy as that". With that, a long and fruitful marriage began. Again, we saw that even in his moment of extreme loss, he though not of himself, but of those he loved.

After the war Champ was an inspiration to all of the returning disabled veterans, when he took and passed his CPA exam. And he did not stop there. For the rest of his life he lived with a "can do" spirit, never backing down from a challenge or task, just going foreword, setting an example for all of us to follow.

When Champ left us, he took a piece of each of us with him. We have lost a much-loved family member, a heroic comrade-at-arms, and one of the finest Americans to ever live, in this grand country of ours.

Champ's dedication to his family, to his country, and to his fellow man surely has earned him a place of honor with our loving Lord who is full of grace and mercy.

On this day, The men of Company "C", First Battalion, Twenty-third Marines, Fourth Marine Division who have gone before him, have welcomed Champ McDaniel to his final post. And for those of us who remain, in this place, we say to you, our beloved friend, not goodbye, but, we'll see you later.