Time stands still when a World War II veteran steps onto the decks of the Fighting Lady.
We were blessed, today, to take Bryce Thornton of the Army’s 104th Infantry Division on a special tour of the ship. As it happens, Pat Waters (grandson of General Patton) was here for a meeting and able to speak to him as well.
Mr. Thornton (age 97) was 19 when he stepped onto the shores of Utah Beach in July 1944 as an ordnance specialist. His job after the invasion of Normandy was to clear mines and booby traps ahead of troop movements. He was at the Battle of the Bulge. Out of 36 men in his platoon, 5 made it out of the war alive and not wounded. “I’m just glad to have made it out okay,” he said.
He remarked on how cold it was in Europe during winter. He’d heard of a guy’s feet freezing to the mud in a foxhole in Holland.
We couldn’t help asking Mr. Thornton his secret to longevity (we could barely keep up with him on the gallery deck). He said it’s important to stay active. He cuts the grass and cleans house, among other things. His other words of wisdom for the rest of us came from his own father, “try to look at the positive,” he said, “we focus on the negative too often.”