Local WWII Veterans Remember Their Service

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Ben Jeffords

MT VERNON --  Millions around the world are remembering the day the tide was turned in World War Two. Two veterans from Mt. Vernon are also marking this momentous anniversary.

Neither of them were in Normandy during D-Day, but their service has earned them numerous awards, medals, and stories that have lasted a lifetime.

A glimpse of 93-year-old Arthur Capps' wall at his Mt. Vernon home only depicts a short story in a long novel of memories.
 
"I feel so fortunate to come through with all of this," he says.
 
The former Corporal in the 103rd Engineer Battalion was responsible for clearing bombs in Europe and giving soldiers safe passage through fields. But it wasn't a bomb that ended up sending Capps to the hospital for six months and earning him a purple heart.
     
"I was cleaning the gun, I wasn't expecting anything, and then that thing exploded and got in my legs and in my hands," tells Capps.
 
Four months into his hospital stay, the doctors were ready to send him back to his troop. But Capps pointed out another piece of shrapnel in his leg, which kept him in England for another two months, likely saving his life.
 
"If I had went back after that four months, I'd have been right in the Battle of the Bulge. Our unit was all killed or captured in that."
 
90-year-old Hallie Lewis earned the Soldier's Medal for bravery in Munich, Germany for helping during an explosion that hit a food train surrounded by people.
 
"We picked up 42 kids and mothers with their arms blown off, head blown off, half blown in two," remembered Lewis.
 
He was also part of the liberation of the Dachau Concentration camp. And two weeks ago, France awarded him with the French Legion of Honor. It's the highest decoration the country gives.
     
Lewis says his three years of service were one of the hardest periods of his life, but he wouldn't trade it for anything.
 
"Oh yeah I'm proud, I'm very proud of it. I've always said I wouldn't do it again for a million dollars, but I wouldn't take a million for my experience."
 
Capps has been working on a book, detailing all his World War II memories. With his generation quickly passing away, he hopes his stories can remind people what the war was like.
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