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Honor Veterans and Hear Their Stories This Veteran’s Day

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Nov 2010 02:07pm | comments
Bill Rudduck (center) and two other veterans pose in front of a restored B-17.

Today used to be known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War One. Now we call it Veterans Day and it is a chance to recognize the duty and sacrifices of American veterans. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports Mississippians young and old will reach out to veterans today and honor their service.

There are more then 200-thousand veterans living in Mississippi, and chances are one of them is your neighbor. Today is the day to fly the flag, wave it at a parade or just shake hands with a veteran. Like Bill Rudduck, who was 19- when he flew B-17s in World War Two. He loves to tell the story of a bombing run in North Austria.

“And it was a heavily defended target. They told us it had 16-hundred batteries of four guns each. You cannot imagine how much black smoke and iron was out there in front of you,” Rudduck said.

His B-17 lost a huge chunk of wing and two engines, before Ruddick was forced to crash land in a field. To this day Ruddick credits local farmers for saving him and his crew.

“We thought they were Germans but they weren't. One or two of them could speak a little English. So they helped us burn the airplane. Then they brought some hay carts out and put us in the hay carts and took us to the Adriatic and put us on fishing boats. And we were back at 15th air force headquarters in Bari, Italy before day light the next morning,” Rudduck laughed.

It’s that neighbor helping neighbor spirit that is magnified on Veteran’s Day. Officials with the Veteran’s Affairs Board encourage all Mississippians to spend a few minutes with a veteran today. Just a simple thank you can go a long way. Vietnam Era veteran Dale Hirsch says many soldiers don't get a chance to tell their stories.

“It’s just kind of neat talking to them. You know a lot of these guys come back and they didn't talk about this. They just got married, bought a house and moved on with their life and never said nothing. You talk to their kids and they never said nothing to their kids,” Hirsch said.

Soldiers training for deployment at Camp Shelby will reach out today to veterans of previous wars, at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care Hospital in Biloxi. Spokesperson, Major Deidre Musgrave said the annual visit continues the powerful bond between soldiers.

“But that honor and pride, being able to pay tribute to your nation and your state, definitely is a bond between all veterans serving yesterday as well as today,” Musgrave said.

And that need for a friendly ear will continue, 520 Mississippi National Guardsmen are currently on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless others on active duty are serving at bases around the world.

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Bill Rudduck (center) and two other veterans pose in front of a restored B-17.


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