Waco: WWII veteran’s children, caretakers keep his memories alive

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A 96-year-old World War II veteran who’s living out his days at the Doris Miller VA medical Center in Waco has dementia and no longer remembers stories about his service, but his children and caretakers are keeping the memories alive.

Grady Barganier joined the Marines after the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Megan Vanselow)

Grady Barganier joined the Marines after the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and served in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific.

He was a radio operator and his job was to detect the planes coming and going.

“It was a pretty heavy responsibility because he felt a lot of lives depended on him,” his daughter, Cheryl Bulls, said.

“(An enemy) plane was flying over and dad was out just walking through some woods...and he radioed back to the guys and they shot him down and again dad felt bad for a while and then he remembered that he was at war and that was something that he definitely had to do,” Grady’s son, Grady Lynn Barganier said.

It wasn’t until Barganier got older that he started to share his war stories with his family.

But soon after, his memories from the Marshall Islands grew dim, as everyday tasks became a struggle.

“He started forgetting what to do next he would come out,’ Grady Lynn said.

“One day he couldn’t remember how to open the garage door at their house.”

But as his memories faded, his children now tell his story, hoping to honor his legacy.

“When he started to lose his memory what he never lost was his character and who he was.” Bulls said.

After the war, Barganier returned to Troy where he spent the rest of his life farming and rearing his family.

His family says he was a very humble man, and even through his illness is still concerned about others.

“I think he's what you wish every man in the world could be like,” Grady Lynn said.

“He's always been giving forgiving gracious generous and always putting others before himself,” Bulls said.