Digital Access

Digital Access
Access saukvalley.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from SaukValley.com, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
State

Homeless WWII veteran finds friend

In this March 15, 2014 photo, Samuel Wesley Samples, an 88-year-old World War II veteran, is seen at the American Best Value Inn in Marion. Samples was befriended by Shannon Wimberly, who removed the homeless veteran off the streets, provided him shelter and has begun a fund drive to help him. (AP Photo/The Southern, Steve Matzker)
In this March 15, 2014 photo, Samuel Wesley Samples, an 88-year-old World War II veteran, is seen at the American Best Value Inn in Marion. Samples was befriended by Shannon Wimberly, who removed the homeless veteran off the streets, provided him shelter and has begun a fund drive to help him. (AP Photo/The Southern, Steve Matzker)

MARION (AP) — Shannon Wimberly removed homeless World War II veteran Samuel W. Samples, 88, off the streets, provided him shelter and has begun a fund drive to help him.

"He deserves to live the rest of his days with dignity. That's not asking too much. And, he can afford and knows how to live on his own," Wimberly said about Samples.

Chicago native Samples is currently staying in a Marion motel. He has been living the past year bouncing around from temporary makeshift shelters to temporary motel stays. He gets veterans and Social Security stipends amounting to about $1,000 monthly. Excessive utility costs forced him out of apartments in Marion and Carbondale, where he had previously resided.

The past winter months have been tough as Samples couldn't afford heated quarters.

"You can't live motel-to-motel living on the income I get. No one wants to live outside and freeze to death," Samples said.

Wimberly and his friend, Melanie Shannon, found Samples sitting in his walker on a road off Enterprise Way in east Marion during early evening hours earlier last week.

They stopped to offer assistance. Samples asked for a blanket. Wimberly and Shannon soon learned he was homeless.

They checked him into a local motel for the night. Wimberly worked with Samples the next few days to help find him assistance.

That has included visits to the Marion VA Center. Wimberly learned of Samples' past military record. It has included serving on the Normandy beaches with amphibious support during the Allied invasion and working logistics during the Battle of the Bulge.

Wimberly said he has been a World War II enthusiast much of his life, learning everything he can about it. A new friendship with Samples fuels his passion even more.

"To be with friends with someone like Samples is an honor that goes beyond anything imaginable. My goal is to get him into subsidized housing. I am going to see it to the end," Wimberly said.

He has been raising funds in his assistance effort for Samples through FundRazr, which is accessible through Wimberly's Facebook page.

Samples is grateful for Wimberly coming into his life.

"This man has a big heart. There's no materialistic reward for him doing this. He is interested in veterans who are forgotten about. Many veterans have lost their lives. I'm lucky to be alive," Samples said.

Loading more