Waco: World War II veterans share stories with history class

WACO, Texas (KWTX) The History of World War II class from Vanguard Preparatory Academy visited Veterans One Stop on Thursday to hear stories from those who served in the war.

Photo By: Chelsea Edwards

Speakers included an army pilot, a widow of a corpsman, and Major Raymond Cotton, who helped liberate three German prisoner of war camps.

"We found four of our men that had been captured out of my division. One of the guys that came out to the fence at this prison camp, was a guy that I had reported killed in action," he tells the students.

"So it was quite a reunion."

Ira L. Watson who was a machine gunner and served over thirty years as active duty in the military, shared a life lesson from his service with the students who visited today.

"Whatever you do- do it to the best of your ability."

Watson received several commendations for his military service, including two Bronze Stars.

Chris Parrelo who was born and raised in Waco, was in the 11th grade at Waco High School when he decided to enlist in the navy during the war.

He holds up a picture of the USS Kendrick as he describes his time on the destroyer ship, dropping charges on enemy submarines and destroying a German machine gun nest.

"If I had to do it all over again," he tells the class, "I'd do it."

One woman whose husband served during World War II, also has a son in the Marines and three grandsons who served in Desert Storm.

She describes a tough time for families who had to endure while loved ones were away fighting.

"Although I wasn't in the military- I was!"

Her husband was serving in the 6th Marine Division, when she says he found a fellow soldier on the battlefield with his inner organs exposed.

He pulled him together as best he could and closed him with safety pins.

Years later, when he had retired from service, someone called out to him at a bus station where he was working in Tyler, Texas.

That person was the soldier who he took the time to patch up on the battlefield that day. His life had been saved.

After the stories were told, students had the opportunity to ask questions and take pictures with the vets.

Bobby Brashear who helped transport wounded soldiers to hospitals during the war says he liked reflecting on those times with others who served.

"I enjoy the camaraderie. It's nice that they have this for us."