A reader who wished to remain anonymous, emailed the Edmonson Voice today after stopping by to visit local WWII Veteran, Wiley Willis. The reader said he knows Willis and stops in occasionally to visit. "I was on my way to the Veterans Day Program at school, but as I was passing Wiley's house I had to stop. The best way to give honor to a veteran is to shake hands with one and tell them."
WW2 Veteran Wiley Willis Willis' uniform with various medals
The reader said that Willis shared a couple of different stories with him today, one of which was about a very close call. Willis said that while in Germany, he and a .50 caliber machine gunner were keeping watch over a large field when he noticed three large boards that made up a gate in a fence. He thought to himself, "Man, those would be just right to cover our foxhole." Thinking they were safe from the enemy, he walked 100 yards or so and began to kick at the board (approx. 10 ft tall and several inches thick) that was nailed to the fence. Once he kicked the board off the fence, he motioned for the gunner to come help carry the heavy board back to the foxhole. After they had successfully stolen two of the boards, they returned to get the last one. He said that as they lifted the final board at their hips, the board began to disappear into splinters. Once they realized that machine gun bullets were splintering the board, they both dropped to the ground.
"Germans had been watching us the whole time, you see. There was splinters all the way up to my fingertips. That board saved our lives," said Willis. A German machine gunner was stationed on the other side to protect the woods while Willis and another soldier were stationed in the field. Willis said after they dropped to the ground they decided to forget about the board and crawl back to their original stations.
The reader's letter said he missed the Veterans Day Program, but that he felt like he made the right decision. "I saw the best Veterans Day Program I've ever had the opportunity to see. I got choked up a couple of times."
Edmonson Voice Staff,