WWII Vets Share Wartime Memories at National Veterans Day Commemoration

National Veterans Day Ceremony, 11 November 2016.  
<a href=http://media.defense.gov/2016/Nov/11/2001667247/3202/3202/0/161111-D-SV709-001.JPG>Photo Credit</a>
National Veterans Day Ceremony, 11 November 2016. Photo Credit

A small group of World War II veterans shared stories of courage and service at the annual Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, DC.

William Tippins was a prisoner of war for 18 months.  He returned to Germany after the war to find the nurse who saved his life by sneaking him food. The two eventually married.

Robert Reid served in the South Pacific. He once noticed a ship with the same number as the one his brother was serving on.  He sent a message to the crew of the other ship asking if they knew his brother.  He immediately received back the response, “You’re speaking to him.”

An announcer read the names of the fifteen World War II veterans attending the ceremony at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and gave a brief description of their service.

The servicemen, now in their 90s, saluted the flag – a special one that has traveled the world since 1999 – while hundreds in the audience listened to the stories.

The focus on WWII veterans this year was intentional as the number of surviving veterans shrinks every year, USA Today reported.

Wilfred Bitgood, a veteran of the Air Force, recalled having fun with the guys during the war. He said he’d think about how the infantrymen marching below him with their guns and their packs couldn’t get along without him in his plane.  But, he knew the pilots couldn’t get along without the foot soldiers.

Bitgood became emotional as he thought about the divisions in our country.

“People don’t know how to get along with one another.  Some day they may know, and we’ll get through together without fighting and killing each other,” he said. “I had a lot of friends who have been killed in wars.  I don’t like it, but it’s necessary.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE