By Jacqueline Chandler/News Correspondent
Attalla Senior Center members celebrated their veterans on Monday (Nov. 10).
Veterans displayed their commendations and medals for the congregate to view, shared stories and enjoyed a brotherhood formed years ago.
Most of the veterans present were in their 80’s but the oldest, Tom Collins, is 92 years old.
Collins, who served in World War II, displayed his Purple Heart, among many other medals and decorations of service. He was wounded in his right hand from mortar fire.
“Normally we could hear the mortars, but I never heard that one,” said Collins. “It looked like dirt had flown up and hit my hand from the mortar but I finally saw the blood and realized I was hit. The doctor stitched me up and told me to rest for about three days.”
Collins had been building bridges in England for troops to transport over when his battalion was ordered to head to Normandy. The battalion was unable to make the D-Day invasion because it was on the other side of England. Another strategically closer battalion went in its place.
“We were supposed to be there for the initial landing on the beach but we couldn’t get there,” remembered Collins. “There was a 98 percent casualty rate on that first day. I saw a lot of death, (and) all that starts to weigh on you as you get older.”
Collins discussed the horrifying casualties of that war. He said that many of the other troops went to see the bodies of Jews that had been murdered by Hitler but he couldn’t go because he had seen enough.
Sam Causey served in the Korean War and manned heavy artillery in the 69th Field Artillery Division to support the 14th Infantry Regiment.
“There were 10 guns in a battalion, we shot over 100,000 rounds,” said Causey. “During the day, we would move up to a forward position and fire as the infantry advanced. At night we would fall back to our secondary position, but some nights we would shoot all night long. It was cold; sometimes it would get up to around zero (degrees) and feel alright. Most of the time it was negative 30 degrees.”
Eighty-eight year old Elbert Wooten served during both WWII and the Korean War, earning many commendations for his service. He was stationed in the South Pacific for a majority of his service.
Air force staff sergeant Jackie Coker served in North Africa during his tour. James Starling and Keith Collier were also military men but were fortunate enough to avoid being sent to battle.