HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As we continue to celebrate the 4th of July holiday it’s important to remember the heroes that have served our country.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says that around 350 World War II veterans die every day, making it essential to share their stories while their voices can be heard.
WHNT News 19 met with two World War II veteran’s who met for the first time this week and has very similar experiences.
“They would shoot them out and you’d pow and that how you started your training,” says 94-year-old veteran Gerald Cabot as he recalls a bit of his training experience.
Luel Harris remembers it too, “I forgot about that, that was a lot of fun.”
For two men who just met for the first time. You would think these two have known each other for ages.
“We lived very similar lives,” says Harris.
Luel Harris and Gerald Cabot both served in World War II when they were just 18.
Harris served in the Pacific and Cabot served 27 missions in Europe.
They thought they would be flight engineers but they say the army already had those positions filled.
“They say well you look like a gunner. So they sent me to gunners school in Florida,” says Harris. Cabot responds by saying ” That’s exactly what happened to me.”
The two ended up serving as B-29 gunners.
The B-29 long-range heavy bomber was one of the most technologically advanced airplanes of its time. It was also the world`s heaviest production plane. Making it difficult to fly. ” And it took two pilots to control that thing.”
As the two share their unique experiences it’s clear that even after 75 years, the memories and realities of war haven’t faded.
“You may be the victor but it stays with you the rest of your life, you know I think about the guys that didn’t return,” says Harris.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, less than 500-thousand World War II veterans are still alive to share their stories.
“We were young when we went in we were 18 years old. So most veterans are older than we are and that’s pretty damn old.”
Time will continue to pass and the realities of this war may be forgotten, but these two hope their story lives forever.
“Unless you listen to old guys like us and read these history books you wouldn’t know these things,” says Cabot.