Veterans Share Stories,Spirit at Oklahoma Veterans Center

Wednesday, December 21st 2011, 8:44 pm
By: News 9

Christmas parties sometimes look all the same.  Cookies, punch, and gifts can be boring.  But they're never boring when war stories are involved.

This week's Christmas party at the Oklahoma Veterans Center Special Needs Unit certainly wasn't boring.  The men housed there are all dealing with some form of dementia, but you might not realize it.   

James Harris finds it hard to sit still, preferring to push his wheel chair back and forth constantly.  But he doesn't need to sit still to tell someone about his time in the Navy.

"I was a gunner on a merchant marine ship," Harris said."  "We won the war."

Charlie Haftman also shared his story, in between unwrapping presents.

"See my fingers? I typed letters at 70 words a minute," Haftman said.  Those letters weren't' just any letters though.  Haftman was President Nixon's personal typist for a short while. Before that he served in the Army, Navy, and the Coast Guard.

Some of the veterans can't speak for themselves anymore, but their families were more than happy to share their stories.

Jon Huntington served as a tail gunner in his military days.  His daughter told of the time her father was coming back to the states from overseas when his plane encountered engine trouble.

"They threw everything, all their knapsacks, everything overboard," she said.  "In order to be able to not ditch into the sea."

Some war stories never fade away, but the same can't be said about the minds of some of America's heroes. 

Some of them may not speak, but that's not truly indicative of their spirit.  Gerold Terry speaks with his eyes.  It's something that his wife of 55 years understands perfectly.

"He's just excited because he got to see his great granddaughter,"  she said.  "And that's always exciting to him."