Classic History Personal Blog

Conversation with a WWII Veteran

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I was recently walking through a normal American neighborhood when a man walked out from his home to speak with me briefly. He asked what type of work I did and how many children I had. I asked about his life, he said his wife had passed years ago and he was now 94 years old. He grew up on a small farm near Murphy, North Carolina and was drafted into the US Army and sent to Europe to serve in World War II.

Our winters even in the mountains of North Carolina are mild compared to what he endured in Belgium, he said. As the US Army pushed further into the continent, the Germany Army was doing everything they could to defend their country. A dike was destroyed and water began to rise at his camp. His commanding officer ordered him to move the heavy guns and ammunition to higher ground.

He tried to stand up and immediately told the officer that he had a problem. His boots were frozen to the ground. His fellow soldiers cut his boots away from his feet to free him from the ground.

He would spend the next 9 months in a hospital in Paris receiving doses of penicillin multiple times per day to try to save his legs from amputation. Apparently it worked and he was able to return home to the United States with both legs. He told his father that he was tired of farming and took a job closer to a city. He told me that if his feet had not frozen to the ground he would have kept fighting and likely would have died with his fellow soldiers in Belgium.

It might have just been the wind but through this whole story small tears were dripping from his blue eyes.

Originally published


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