SPOTSWOOD- A Philadelphia Eagles fan for more than six decades, World War II veteran Richard E. DePue decided to take only his second airline flight since the war to attend this year’s Super Bowl.
“I’ve been a true Eagles fan since 1950, when the Eagles played Washington [Redskins] for the championship. The had the great Sammy Baugh – he was a great player for Washington and we won that game. There was no Super Bowl at that time; it was just the championship,” DePue said. “Then, as the years went by, I would see two or three games every year until 1988. Then, my son Rick and my grandson Alex became regular season ticketholders since then.”
Ready to see his favorite football team challenge the New England Patriots, DePue said his son, grandson and he went to this year’s Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — his lifelong dream to attend. He flew during World War II but only once after for his 25th wedding anniversary to Hawaii due to nerves.
“We were happy and you know, our quarterback that played against [Tom] Brady, he was the second stinger. Our main quarterback was hurt during the year so we didn’t think we were going to get that far, but lo and behold we made it to the Super Bowl,” DePue said. “It was a great trip. We spent four nights there, plus my grandson and I were put on the video screen before 68,000 people. I couldn’t believe that was happening and everybody was clapping.”
That second string quarterback, Nick Foles, was the force behind the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl when Philadelphia scored a 41-33 upset over the Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champion. Foles, who replaced injured starter Carson Wentz in December, was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Originally from West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, DePue has been a Spotswood resident since 1961. He and his wife Dorothy will celebrate 70 years of marriage on April 5. He also has another son, David, and one daughter, Sharon Macik.
“At the age of 16 years old in 1943, [to] 1944, I worked in a weaving mill making parachute material for the war. We were payed a great sum of 25 cents per hour at that time. I then went to New Jersey and started working at Delco Battery [company] in North Brunswick. Then I moved to Spotswood. My friends, they were going away so that is why I joined the service at that time,” DePue said.
Once in the U.S. Army, DePue said he was sent to Okinawa, Japan, where he was put in the kitchen and became a second cook, which is known as a corporal today.
“I thought it was the right thing to do. My friends were going and I did not want to stay back. I shipped out on Jan. 2, 1945,” DePue said.
DePue said his father was a miner and his mother was a florist. One of five children, he said, “Two of my younger brothers were also in the service. My sister Barbara was also in the service at that time. She was in the Air Force [and] retired from Michigan Air National Guard. So four of us were in the service.”
After General Douglas MacArthur signed a treaty in Japan, DePue said he was sent to the city of Nagata, Japan, as an occupational force and then sent to Manila, Philippines.
“I was in the kitchen there for three months and then I was offered the position of staff car driver for [a colonel]. I enjoyed driving for him for the rest of my time in the military. He was very sports-minded so I got to see a lot of games while driving for him,” DePue said.
He was elated that so many years later, he was able to see his own significant game.
“What a sight in that beautiful new stadium. Everybody was so friendly that you thought you knew them all your life,” DePue said.
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