WWII Vets reflect on Memorial Day - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

WWII Vets reflect on Memorial Day

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Packed in American Legion Post 30 eating an afternoon dinner is a group of aging men and their spouses. Each of them a member of the Greatest Generation, and each of them has a story.

"They started shooting everything in the world at us and hitting us and I was the co-pilot," said Lee James. The former POW was shot down in a B-17 Bomber over Germany.

On the other side of the world, Jim Potter saw action on board a Navy ship. He said, "We got torpedoed in the battle of the Philippines.

Whether in Europe, Africa or the Pacific - Navy, Army, or Marine Corps - these men all served in the same war, the second Great War. And neither age nor distance has washed away their memories.

"I think about it everyday, everyday," says Jesse Piland.

He was just 24 years old when the young Navy officer saw action at the Battle of Midway.

"I was on one ship and we saw 16 major battles and we didn't lose a man. Man that was something."

They were young men on a mission to save the world.

"I'm no hero. We did a job that had to be done and then came on home," says one 99-year-old veteran.

And decades later they represent the ones who did come home, all the while never forgetting those who didn't.

"We lost 86 men that day. We had a lot of fellas that didn't make it and a lot that have fallen by the way side since then," says Potter.

It's on this day outside the American Legion Post in Albany where the flag flies at half staff. It's a reminder of those who are gone but not forgotten.

"I miss them all. I can't describe it really," said Piland.

The 31st of May, it's a day that has a special meaning to these vets.

"It means a lot to me. It means a lot."

Not a holiday, but a day to remember.

According to one Navy Vet, "We've got to remember on these days that we can commemorate what price they had to pay to keep the freedoms in this land."

It's that same sentiment which is shared by millions of service men who fought along side those who died fighting for our country.

Strewn out in the red white and blue, half way down a flag pole, it's the ultimate sacrifices we too, should never forget.

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