JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Jessie Hughes served in the army during World War II as a radio operator. In 1944, he was taken prison by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He survived, made it back home to Florida, and last week, 70 years after serving, he was finally recognized for his service to our country.
The Army honored Hughes with six medals, two pins and one lapel button for his service.
"I felt honored, I felt overwhelmed, and grateful," says the 93-year-old former prisoner of war.
The soldier's life looked much different 70 years ago. Germans took him prisoner a week before Christmas in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.
He survived, a theme important to Hughes, and one he has passed on in stories of his time at war to his grand-daughter, Allison Porter. She and her husband heard those stories, and started researching.
"I think it's a lesson that we need to lean in and listen to the stories that our grandparents, our great grandparents, our uncles have," says Allison. "I know he's probably told this story before but there was just a quiet day at Christmas that we actually listened and heard."
Now, the man who volunteered for the army at the age of 23 and was part of the war in Europe from the D-Day invasion of Normandy to the German counterattack in the Ardennes Forest, finally received the honors he didn't expect, but the army says he deserves.
Looking back on his service, the World War II veteran has advice for the young men and women serving our country now.
"Do it if the occasion warrants it with fidelity, strength and loyalty because the country is worth defending. It's a great country, and I'd rather live here than any other place on earth."
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