98-year-old Hagerstown WWII veteran reflects before return to Germany

Maryland

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — 98-year-old Jack Myers is one of the few soldiers alive today who fought in World War II. On Friday morning, he’s getting onto a plane to Germany to attend a ceremony honoring his courage and bravery.

Jack Myers was just 19 years old when he was drafted to fight in World War II. Now, this trip will be his eighth one to go to locations across Germany where he once fought Nazi soldiers.

Myers explained he started taking trips back to Europe back in 2014 and has tried to return every year. He has revisited places in Germany and France where he once was a soldier. On his first trip in 2014, he traveled with the Greatest Generation Foundation, an organization dedicated to honoring the sacrifices of veterans. The 98-year-old participated in a celebration of the victory of the Battle of the Bulge.

This year’s trip is sponsored by the German government, and Myers believes it is a way to thank the American soldiers for their assistance in defeating Hitler and the Nazi party.

“I’ve been to Europe all of these trips, and why they do it is because they have never forgotten how important freedom is,” Myers said.

Myers was unable to take his annual trip last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Myers noticed the group of veterans taking the trans-continental trip this year is smaller than in years past. However, he is still looking forward to meeting his fellow veterans. Prior to the trip, Myers had been speaking with a fellow veteran based in Colorado. The two have called each other many times, and Myers says he’s excited to finally meet the gentleman in person.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the other five veterans from all over, living nine days with them, talking to them,” Myers said.

During the 9-day trip, Myers will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and travel to a number of concentration camps similar to the Dachau concentration camp which Myers helped to liberate in 1945.

Myers says that while it is emotional to revisit the sites or sometimes even talk about his experiences, he chooses to focus on the positive impact his stories can bring.

“It’s emotional, you know. for 50 years, I could not even start to talk about that. I mean I’d break down,” Myers explained. “And of course I think about losing my buddies… but I think about the good things now.”

Now, Myers enjoys telling his story to members of the community, especially school children.

On the eve of his eighth trip back to Europe, Myers recalls one very special trip to Normandy, France where he and other veterans were greeted with pomp and circumstance. Myers remembers how he and other veterans were taken on a convoy through a small town where residents were cheering and waving flags.

“When the convoy stopped, I thought, ‘Well, now would be a good time for me to sing a song.'”

'What the world needs now is love, sweet love.'

Myers recalls the crowd applauding at the tune, saying, “Because that’s true. That’s what we need right now.”

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