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Korean War Navy Veteran from Lufkin knows true meaning of Memorial Day

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT|Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - In Lufkin, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1836 started the day with a solemn ceremony to remember those who died while on duty with the U.S. military service. Among those present was 86-year-old Korean War Navy veteran Alton T. McCreary.

He understands fully the true meaning of Memorial Day. The lesson came when he was 19, maybe 20. He can’t quite remember how old he was while on board the transport ship, USS General A.E. Anderson

He does recall hating the day when he had to check bodies on board.

“We took them down the cargo hole. We stacked them two high. And shored up around them. And I had to take their names, ranks and service number off and write it down,” said McCreary. After a thoughtful pause, he said, “It was an experience I won’t ever forget.”

McCreary said it took a while to load all the fallen comrades. Each one received respect.

“The guys working on deck, when a body left the dock, you saluted. That’s about all they done all day was salute.”

The salutes of honor continue to this day, as they should. Post commander Ashley Bratton serves veterans, while teaching her daughter, Briley, the importance of the ultimate sacrifice.

“This one is KIA. The one that actually died while they were serving,” pointed Bratton to the Veterans Wall of Honor. “And then there’s the special one that says POW.”

There are those still learning about Memorial Day and those who learned its importance from life lessons.

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