[January 23, 2024] The U.S. Veterans Affairs states that of the 16.1 million Americans who served during World War II, only 119,550 are alive as of September 2023. Yesterday, I was honored to meet a WW2 veteran, Al Hammon, 97, who joined the Merchant Marines in 1944. He attended various academies and was later a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. He also served during the Korean War.
By September 2024, the VA estimates that approximately 75,000 of these veterans will remain (link here). Approximately 131 are dying each day. This means that memories of WW2 – its heroic actions and horrific events – disappear each day.
It’s hard to imagine that this man joined the Merchant Marines 80 years ago this year at 17 years of age. We are losing these veterans too quickly, and we are also failing to listen to their stories. But if you ask them, they will tell you about their battlebuddies, adventures, and reasons for joining.
No matter how much we try today, what these veterans learned is lost too quickly. I asked Mr. Hammon what he thought about when he was on the cargo ships where he served. He claims the main thing was learning to survive and, most importantly, working as a team to accomplish the mission.
A small group of veterans met and brought Mr. Hammon in to see how our veterans group functioned.
Thanks, Mr. Al Hammon. We salute you as a hero.
NOTE: See the article “Meeting with a Korean War Veteran” link here.
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