Fort Jackson welcomes World War II veterans
July 10, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A group of World War II veterans got a taste of modern Basic Combat Training and shared memories of their own experiences during a July 2 tour of Fort Jackson with Honor Flight South Carolina.
The group, ranging in age from 81 to 93, served in all different branches during the war.
The veterans, who included ex-prisoners of war and retired Col. Charles Murray, Medal of Honor recipient, were welcomed enthusiastically by the Fort Jackson community.
"People have been great," said Wallace Starnes of Columbia. "Everything has been so impressive, especially the graduation."
A number of the veterans passed through Fort Jackson on the way to war.
"Even if they didn't train here, many were at least inducted into the military at Fort Jackson," said Bill Dukes of honor flight.
The veterans commented on a few of the changes in the years since they were in the military. One of the biggest differences noted by the group was gender-integrated training, a new concept for many of the veterans.
They also took notice of the change in accommodations.
"We had wooden barracks -- if we were lucky," noted Lawrence Stroman of Batesburg. "A lot of guys slept in tents."
"Without air-conditioning," piped up another voice from the back.
Another big change'
"KP duty," said Frank Bouknight Sr. referring what was called kitchen police or patrol.
Stroman quickly agreed. "Everyone had to do KP duty," he said.
As the group departed Fort Jackson at the conclusion of the tour, one veteran stopped to express his thanks to the escort. "I had a great time," he said, "Thank you so much."
Then he turned to his battle buddy next to him and continued the story he had begun on the bus.
"I remember when ...."