Random attack in Spokane leaves WWII veteran dead

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Police in
Spokane, Wash., say they have
arrested one of two teens suspected
of fatally beating an 88-year-old
veteran of World War II who had
survived the Battle of Okinawa.
Authorities say the two young men,
between 16 and 19 years old,
approached Delbert Belton in his
car at random Wednesday night
outside an Eagles Lodge as he was
waiting for a friend.
Belton was found by police with
serious head injuries and died in
the hospital Thursday.
Spokane Police say they have
surveillance images of the
attackers.
The Spokesman-Review reports
Belton was born and raised in
Spokane before he joined the Army.
Friends say he was shot in the leg
during the Battle of Okinawa, where
thousands of American soldiers
died.
After the war, he spent 33 years
working for Kaiser Aluminum, before
retiring in 1982.
Belton's sister, Alberta Tosh, told
the newspaper her brother "went
through hell" during his years in
the Army. Though she was too little
to remember her brother going to
war, she does remember how
reluctant he was to talk about the
bloody Okinawa battle in 1945.
"I know he came home shell-
shocked pretty bad," she said.
Belton lived a full and busy life,
Tosh said. He loved to dance, repair
old cars and was always surrounded
by close friends and loved ones.
"He was a good guy who would help
anybody if they needed help," she
said.
A friend, Ted Denison, said he was
planning to go to the Eagles Lodge
when he heard Belton had died.
"He put his life on the line for our
country to come home and 60 years
later? Get beat to death?" Denison
said. "That's not right."
Denison, a veteran himself, said he
used to tease Belton about his
membership in the Eagles Lodge,
saying that place was for "old
fogies." He didn't make it to the
lodge in time.
"I don't care who you are, you don't
beat up an old man," Denison said.
"You're supposed to respect your
elders, not beat them to death."
Another close friend, Lill Duncan,
said she can't imagine what drove
anyone to kill him.
"He lived his life every day to make
somebody else happy. It wasn't all
about him. It was about what he
could do for everybody else."