Wesley Howe can remember driving through a mountainous area in the Philippines with a .45 caliber hand gun in his fist.

World War II was still raging across the globe and Howe — who was part of a convoy — was wary of snipers.

Injured by a German “buzz bomb,” Dale Milligan was in a hospital in England when the Allies began bringing in soldiers wounded in the D-Day invasion. Milligan hobbled around the hospital as he helped clean up the new hospital patients.

Seventy-five years after World War II, the Fremont men remain as living witnesses of history.

And both know the importance of sharing their stories with younger generations.

So on Nov. 4, they and other World War II veterans will be part of a unique event, planned from 2-4 p.m., at First United Methodist Church in Fremont.

The event is free and open to the public in the church at 815 N. Broad St.

During the event, area residents will have an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with the veterans and thank them for their military service. Refreshments will be served.

Authors Joyce Winfield and Nancy Wagner have organized the event, which grew out of Winfield’s experiences with veterans.

Winfield is author of the book, “Forever Heroes: A Collection of World War II Stories from Nebraska Veterans.”

Since publishing her book, she has given presentations about it and the veterans to different organizations.

“I love telling their stories,” she said.

At the same time, Winfield knows the veterans love sharing their own stories.

“Who better to tell their own stories but them?” she wondered.

Thus began the idea for having an event a week before Veterans Day.

“It’s a good way to show them honor and respect,” Winfield said.

Up to 14 veterans, all of whom are featured in the book, could attend.

Chairs for each of the veterans will be placed at the front of the church sanctuary. Winfield said veterans will have a brief opportunity to share their name, the branch of military in which they served, where they served and what type of job they did.

Audience members then will be able to ask questions of the veterans. Afterward, attendees will be asked to stay for refreshments and visit with the veterans.

Attendees also will have an opportunity to purchase a copy of the “Forever Heroes” book and have veterans autograph the chapter that tells about them.

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Those who’ve already bought a book may bring it for the veterans to autograph.

Winfield believes the event provides a way for people to learn about the veterans and hear some of their stories.

Howe, now 95 years old, was a truck driver for the U.S. Army during World War II. He recalls seeing a kamikaze pilot and plane that just missed hitting a ship carrying airplane fuel and later — after Japan’s surrender — seeing Japanese men tossing in their guns into huge piles.

Milligan, 93, recalls the cold and snow of the Battle of the Bulge, the gun he manned on a mountain and the enemy SS trooper who parachuted after his plane was shot down and landed not far from him.

Veterans like Howe and Milligan have many memories.

“There’s gobs of stories,” Howe said.

Yet Howe believes many of these stories will be lost to younger generations if not told.

“It’s really not taught enough in schools,” Howe said. “This younger generation has no idea — they don’t know anything about the history of what these guys went through.”

Winfield hopes area residents will attend the event to hear the veterans’ first-hand accounts.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be in the same room at the same time with possibly up to 14 World War II veterans,” Winfield said. “That just doesn’t happen.”


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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