World War Vets Say They're Quickly Losing Their Comrades - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/18/02

World War Vets Say They're Quickly Losing Their Comrades

Sixteen million Americans fought in World War II. and according to the National Cemetery Administration only five million are still living. Some World War Two veterans say as their numbers shrink, they fear their legacy will be buried with them.

The 52nd Air Service Squadron has been getting together to relive memories of World War II since the late '70's, but over years some vets say fewer comrades have showed up to swap stories. Since 1990, two-thirds of the squadron's members have died.

"Less faces. A lot of them," said veteran Chester Crocker. "We've lost a lot in the last 15 or 20 years."

Another veteran, Thomas Evans, said "Old age is catching up with all of us. Our group is diminishing a little each year.We have quite a few of our members that are still alive, but they're unable to come to these reunions yearly because of their health."

The men where sent into action shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. They say while most of the nation focused on the fighting in Europe, they where stationed in Burma providing support for war planes flying over the Himalayan Mountains. Some of the men say they felt ignored then and to some extent still do. However some of the younger generations, especially those who's fathers went to war, do remember the contributions of veterans. Even though today's soldiers are fighting a hi-tech war, in many ways a soldier's life remains just as difficult.

Robert Fleming is the son of World War II veteran.

"We've got soldiers all over the world right now that are experiencing the same things that my father experienced back in World War II," said Fleming. "Heartache, loneliness, missing your love ones."

The veterans and their wives miss those they have lost but as their numbers dwindle, they have learned to appreciate each moment together. Members of the 52nd Air Service Squadron range in ages from 79 to 85. The group is already planning its next reunion.

By Danielle Thomas

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