JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Fort Sam Houston Survivor Outreach Services Support Program, in partnership with the Fort Sam Houston Gold Star Families, hosted a ceremony recognizing World War II Veterans for their service and sacrifice at the Military and Family Readiness Center on Fort Sam Houston, Aug. 20.
"When the 75th Anniversary [of D-Day] happened in June, we knew that there were some WWII vets here in San Antonio that were unable to travel to attend, we thought it would be a nice idea if we honored them somehow, and so the Fort Sam Houston Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) council elected to do this ceremony," said Cindy Hildner, Gold Star Spouse and SOS member.
Fifty WWII veterans attended the ceremony, including five centenarians, two Tuskegee Airmen and one member of the British Royal Air Force. Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Walter Duzzny, Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Army North, said he felt privileged and honored to be in the presence of these heroes.
Duzzny said the legacy and the standards set by the WWII generation still resonates with the service members today. "We remain forever in debt to the World War II veterans who demonstrated selfless service, sacrifice, and dedication to duty that really characterize what we call the Greatest Generation."
One of the members in attendance was 93-yar-old veteran Clark Wilson, who served in the 283rd Combat Engineer Battalion. As a Private in the Army, he said he was glad to serve at 18, bushy-tailed and ready to go. Despite removing mines on the beaches of Normandy 22 days after D-Day, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, and sitting in on the Nuremberg Trials, Wilson said he feels like the moniker the Greatest Generation is a little overrated.
"I didn't feel like I was the Greatest Generation that's ever been," said Wilson. "I think that can apply to a lot of people now and since then, I never really did buy into that. I felt like we did our job, what we were expected to do, so I accept it, but I don't know if it's really describing me. Just like any job you are hired to do and you do it, but we had a lot laying on us."
Fort Sam's Own 323d Army Band concluded the ceremony with a medley of each military branch's song- a tribute which was met by waving hats and salutes from the veterans.