Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran beaten to death in an apparent robbery in Washington state last week, has been given a military burial, a send-off attended by hundreds who paid their respects to the man known as "Shorty."
Belton, born on Dec. 21, 1924, in Sunnyside, Wash., earned his nickname as a young man, when he stood just 5'5". He worked as a jockey and cut and sold cords of firewood before joining the Army in 1943, during the Second World War, according to the eulogy given for him.
Belton served in the 102nd Infantry as a military policeman and a sharpshooter, seeing action in the Pacific Theater, including Okinawa. He worked for an aluminum company for 30 years and enjoyed dancing, fixing cars and watching wrestling.
Belton was beaten to death outside an Eagles Lodge in Spokane on Aug. 21, and two young men have been arrested in connection with his death. Demetruis L. Glenn and Kenan Adams-Kinard, both 16, are charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Three other juvenile boys were also arrested and charged with helping the young men evade the police, authorities said.
Belton's killing touched a nerve across the country, as many expressed outrage at the senseless beating death of a elderly veteran.
Hundreds of people, including many service members, attended his burial at Greenwood Cemetery in Spokane.
“Shorty was part of our common life, and his death brings a sense of loss, and the unconscionable manner of his loss brings feelings of pathos and anger, as well," the Rev. Homer Todd said in a eulogy, describing Belton as “short but full of vim and vinegar."
“For many there is a profound sense of unfinished agenda," Todd told the mourners.
A soloist sang "We'll Meet Again," noting that Belton had likely danced to the song.
As the services came to a close, a military honor guard fired shots to honor his passing.
Officials said the teens charged with Belton's death would be tried as adults.