HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A special Veterans Day celebration brought together veterans of all ages, at Tut Fann State Veterans Home Monday afternoon.
Sitting in the crowd were children of Huntsville’s Young Marines, who are learning the fundamentals of military life, veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and men who were drafted at 18 years old and sent all across the globe during WWII.
Veteran Willis Branton was drafted into the US Navy in 1946. He left family behind and deployed to Guam.
It was there he worked to load aircraft and where the threat of attack was always present.
“You never knew if the Japanese would come out of the jungle, but we were there anyway. A typhoon wiped us out one day,” recalled Branton.
He returned home after two difficult years in the service.
“They asked me if I wanted to go to Japan and I said ‘no!’ My time was up and I headed back to the United States.”
His story is just one among the more than a hundred veterans who live at Tut Fann Veterans Home.
Many have taken a front seat to moments we only read about in history books.
“I’ve got one resident here who was about 10 feet from Adolf Hitler before they called him back on the sirens and said he had committed suicide,” said administrator Zachary Wood.
Wood is a veteran himself, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wood spends his days caring for the veterans of Tut Fann, who hope young veterans like him, can learn from their experiences.
Branton says he has one very important piece of advice for today’s servicemen and women, and those who will enlist in the decades to come.
“Talk to the good Lord and make sure you live a good life, because you never know what’s going to happen.”