MERRIAM, Kan. — Big tributes happened for World War II veterans and beyond for Veterans Day 2022. Those ceremonies were being held across the Kansas City metro on Friday.
“I’m just pleased to still be here. There were about, what, 15 million in service in World War II. There’s only about a couple of 100,000 left. I feel like I’m in a select company,” John Martin, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, said.
In Johnson County, one moving tribute highlighted a number of older servicemen and women.
Martin laid the wreath honoring World War II veterans at the tribute. His longevity, his combat experience serving in a rifle company — he’s proud of it all.
“Also the Army jacket that he wears — and it still fits,” Johnson County Executive Ed Eilert said from the podium.
“Still fits, well…not quite,” Martin said, tugging at his lapels.
“I tried to join the Navy in 1942, but they didn’t take me because I was colorblind. And they said, ‘Young man, you’ll just have to wait to go home to get drafted,'” Martin said.
“I was drafted in 1943,” Martin said.
“He was in combat in Germany and Belgium, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Bronze Star with V for valor in action in Germany,” Eilert said.
“Never had a scratch because the good Lord was looking over me all the time,” Martin said.
During these moments of tribute, Martin said he thinks a lot about the people who aren’t here.
“I lost an awful lot of people, friends, comrades. Three company commanders, second lieutenant, platoon leader — they were all killed. And I just kept living and the Lord was watching over me,” Martin said.
He was 19 at the time of his service and is 99 years old now.
“My wife and I will be married 75 years in December,” Martin said.
Now he is living in a retirement community and says he’s enjoying life and still preparing a good number of meals himself, including this staple for his health: “TV dinners.”
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