LAWTON, Okla._Nearly 200 soldiers, right out of basic training, spent Veterans Day at the Lawton-Ft. Sill Veterans Center paying homage to those that served before them.
The large group of privates and specialists helped spruce up the facility, while also having lunch and visiting with the residents. It's a Fort Sill tradition that happens each year and gives young soldiers the opportunity to learn from those who have done the same jobs they'll do at their first duty stations.
Norman Roberts is 93 years old and a World War II veteran. Roberts served in a special operations group in Europe.
"It was a secret mission. Well, it was to go to London, I mean England, and go on a big golf course that England had given to the United States to bring gliders into it and were to go over and assemble them," Roberts explained.
It wasn't an easy task because his unit only had 150 soldiers and their job was to build 2,000 gliders. Those gliders were then used during the invasion of France and the invasion of Holland.
Specialist Danielle Tchameni says Roberts' story inspired her.
"It was really great and the one thing he inspired me with was his courage. He was drafted to serve back in the day and I chose to join, but he served with a lot of courage a lot of enthusiasm. He really enjoyed what he did," Spc. Tchameni said.
That joy, pride and courage in the job is something Spc. Tchameni plans to take with her to her next duty station as a combat medic.
"I'm going to be able to effectively serve my fellow soldier by being that first responder when they need it, a medical responder being able to save their lives and get them out," Spc. Tchameni said.
Another retiree was honored by his former unit as an honorary member. Specialist David Banky of the 1st Battalion 40th Field Artillery was given a certificate for his service. He says this is truly an honor for him, but the time spent with the soldiers is what means the most to him.
"It's also a privilege and an honor for them to come visit with me, because normally you don't see that many visitors out here," Banky said.
Seeing the young soldiers and their cadres come to the center each year reminds Banky of his brotherhood that will always be.
"It makes you want to, if you could, put the uniform on again and do battle," Banky said.