El Paso, Texas (KDBC) — Americans across the country honored all those who have served in the nation's military with Veterans Day festivities Monday, but more meaningful perhaps were the memories these veterans shared.
I spoke to veterans who shared their incredible stories of survival, from rescuing concentration camp prisoners to fighting in Vietnam War. They tell me, they would do it all over again if they could.
"My division liberated the concentration camp of nothing but women," said World War II veteran Ernesto Martinez.
It’s memories and missions, the men and women who did their duty and that we honor on this holiday.
Martinez is one of those men. His story sounds like something right out of a newsreel or a history book.
"Maybe 500 women in those concentration camps and they were in nothing but in panties and a fondo,” he said. “It was in winter and they threw them outside in the cold to freeze to death."
The colorful patches on his hat are more than just decoration; they are a representation of who he is, and what he did.
And as he explained the meaning of each patch, the honor and pride became more evident.
"This one means you've been in the front lines day and night for maybe more than a month," said Martinez.
Martinez wasn't the only veteran willing to share an extraordinary story. Jimmy Dabney Vietnam Veteran said his experience has left a permanent mark in his life.
"I resulted an injury from Vietnam,” Dabney said. “The injury was an injury to the brain. My doctor said I could get better I may not I don't know.”
Dabney said he served in Vietnam, a place that claimed many lives, and nearly took his.
"The concussion of the explosion threw me off the helicopter,” said Dabney. “The area was supposed to be clear of enemies, but they make mistakes once in a while and we had some bad experiences.”
Yet as different as Dabney and Martinez are, they share a common point of view. They said they would do it all over again if given the opportunity.
"It makes me proud that when my country needed me I was there. I was there to defend it. And I would do it again if I could," said Martinez.