KATHLEEN, GA.-- - A 94-year-old World War II veteran is being honored for his service in the Battle of the Bulge, as one of the Grand Marshals for Perry's Independence Celebration this weekend.
“It's really nice. It handles real easy,” says veteran Keath Morgan, as he shows off his weapon from the Battle of the Bulge.
About 70 years later, 94-year-old World War II veteran, Keath Morgan has not forgotten how to work his weapon. Meanwhile, the city of Perry has not forgotten about him either. He is one of the marshals for Perry's Independence Day Celebration.
"That's where I met General Eisenhower, and he told us, 'If you boys have come to see action, I'm going to see that you get it,'” recalls Morgan.
During his 3 years fighting in the Battle of the Bulge with the Parachute Troops from the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, he was able to travel all around the world.
"To qualify for Parachute Troops, you had to jump out of the airplane every day for 5 days and one night jump,” explains Morgan.
He says he was first tipped off to go to join the parachute troops because of the pay increase.
"I went through a rigid training. 25 mile hikes, going in fox holes, they learn you how to shoot the rifles. They told me I was making $50 a month and if you want to make $100 go to Fort Benning, Georgia and join the parachute troops. That's where I went,” says Morgan.
No matter good or bad, Morgan created memories to last a lifetime.
"Slept in fox holes and nearly froze to death, sleep with a hole full of snow and the gun was full of snow, but I survived,” remembers Morgan.
He has the pictures and memorabilia to prove it.
"This is me when I was over there as a machine gunner,” says Morgan as he shows a picture of himself as a young man.
The memories of his time on the frontlines are endless.
" I was in Hitler's house. I took a picture when I was in his house. I got his kitchen curtain, too. Later we came back from overseas on the Queen Mary. My momma even sent me a toy parachuter when I was in the parachute troops,” Morgan says as he points out all his special World War II memorabilia.
Though one day the pictures may fade, Morgan says the memories he will never forget, like the time the Rotary Club sent him on the honor flight. That is where he met a woman that said her husband died fighting with the same division.
"Until the day I die, I'll remember when she said, 'I just want to hug your neck and tell you that I love you and thank you for your service,'” says Morgan.
A service matched only by a life well lived. Morgan says he and his wife were married for about 70 years and they raised three children when he returned from World War II.
The Perry Independence Celebration is this Sunday. The parade starts at 6 p.m. on Washington Street and the fireworks will follow at the Georgia National Fairgrounds West Gate.
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