While at Keesler AFB, I met two WWII Veterans.
One was a tail gunner in a B-24. He said he was fifteen when he joined the Army Air Corp in 1942. Then they put him in as a gunner because he was only 5'3" tall, and 95lbs. That meant he could wear the bail out rig and actually fit through the bail out hatch. William Allen, was an instant friend and I nicked named him Wild Bill, after he bragged about having the Hooters girls visit him and his buddies at the Armed Forces Retirement Home there in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The Second was a beautiful 86 year old Japanese lady who stood at least 3"9" tall. She explained how before the war the Japanese Marines would train in the fields behind her house. Then during the war, she was wounded very badly when the Americans bombed her village. She was wounded despite having taken shelter in a hole in her back yard. She had scares on her face; on her left eye, and on the right side of hear face from the eye all the way back around the side of her head over the top of her ear. The years and her hair covered them well.
Then she explained how she had lived through the occupation, and at 18 years old was still shamefully unmarried. That is when an American GI with the most incredibly handsome pink skin and round blue eyes asked her out. She asked him, "Why do you want to take me out, I am all burned and scared?" He told her, "Beauty is only skin deep!" Long story short, with her parents permissiion, they married and had two wonderful children and are still together, living in Biloxi. She was adement about making sure I understood that she had her parents permission to marry. She understoond and lived by the honor of her family.
I met the two of them perhaps within a thirty minute window on Saturday. Bill 87 and Kazue 86 were both wonderful and happy people, complete strangers, yet their lives still remain inextricably intertwined by fate; although, they may never, ever meet. It was an incredible honor when they shared their stories with me, as if they had known me all their lives.
God bless our World War II Veterans! All of them.