“I could not wait to enlist. I saw the posters everywhere. You know the ones, ‘I want you’, with Uncle Sam pointing right at you. I lied about my age so I could go do my part. I grew up in Cedartown, GA. I never liked school. Too boring. I did like a girl at the school, though. I would sit behind her and pull on her red pigtails. When I was going to war, I asked her if I could write to her. I’ll never forget what she said. She told me, ‘Yes, but other boys might write to me too.’ That just made me want to write to her more.
I never knew how big the world was before I was on the open ocean. The ship was the biggest thing I had ever seen. I was in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. I remember thinking, ‘I won’t make it back from this’. But I did. And we won the war. I think I might have been so happy I cried.
When I got back to Cedartown, the red head was still there. She acted like she didn’t recognize me, but I think she did. I took her out to a few social events put on by the church, and I asked her to marry me one night at the candy shop in town. She told me to ask her again in 1 week if I was really sure I wanted to marry her. We have been married 54 years. We were married for 13 years before we had our first child. During that time, she stayed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina when I was sent to fight in the Korean War, we went to the beach a lot, and became genuine partners. She took care of me when I had cancer. She comes with me to all the parades. I’ve been to war. But she is so much stronger than I am.”