WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
They say those that volunteer their time to serve others often end up feeling as much or more blessed than the ones they serve. This was my experience the night I got to act as an escort for an extraordinary gentleman the evening of June 20, 2019.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up to be one of four Airmen to volunteer their time at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force for the Ford Oval of Honor. Ford’s event recognized four WWII veterans for the 75th anniversary of D-Day: Normandy.
The veterans honored were Marion Adams, Lawson Adkins, James H. “Pee Wee” Martin, and Albert L. Carr. All of these brave men were part of the invasion at Normandy. As volunteers, each of us were assigned to escort one of the distinguished guests as they were recognized for their service to our country.
To say it was an honor to meet and escort Mr. Albert Carr, a distinguished Army veteran who received not one but two Purple Hearts for his meritorious service during the second Great War, would be a massive understatement.
Mr. Carr was an absolute delight, his keen eyes sparkled and his smile lit up the room that night. Though he does not consider himself a hero, it was clear that he enjoyed the evening which he was able to enjoy with his lovely wife of 74 years, Velma. The couple was joined by their two sons and more family.
Spending the evening with Mr. Carr, I was regaled with stories from the war, including how he had been shot on two separate occasions that fateful summer of 1944. The first in the neck a few days after landing on the beach, the second in the shoulder in late July. Fortunate to be alive, Mr. Carr has been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and the Presidential Citation Medal along with his two Purple Hearts.
Though advanced in years, Mr. Carr’s memory was as sharp as could be and his good character and intelligence was evident. Not having grandparents of my own, engaging with him and the stories he had to tell, was incredibly sweet and memorable for me.
Mr. Carr’s stories were not only memorable but filled with humor and warmth as I was able to learn about his life and the enduring love story of his marriage. Having led such a fulfilling life, he has a way of making you feel like you should do more.
One remarkable detail was that after his military service, the Texas native went on to have not one or two but three full retirements! From all accounts the Carr’s approach life with passion and zeal no matter what they are pursuing and continue to do so, though their sons occasionally have to remind the couple to pump the brakes, encouraging them to move up to Ohio five years ago to be close to their son in their advancing years.
The experience of being able to meet Mr. Carr and his family, soak in the love and respect they had for their father and husband was truly something I will never forget. If you ever have a chance to volunteer and be a part of something much bigger than yourself, I highly recommend it!