The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas is not just about four walls of a building filled with artifacts and history. It’s about the lives of veterans. It’s about celebrating their past service and their lives given for our country. But it is also about remembering who they are today and celebrating them.

After weeks of holiday festivities, we gaze forward to the coming year. We often wonder what the next year will bring. Will the coming days be just like any other?

I asked Myrl Jean Hughes (pictured second from left below) that question at the birthday party Janis Allen and Mike McCarthy planned for seven of our WWII veterans on January 2, 2024. I asked, “How did it feel to wake up on your 101st birthday yesterday?” Myrl Jean replied, “Just like the day before.”

six wwii veterans sitting at table in the musuem

From left, WWII veterans Joe Cooper, Myrl Jean Hughes, Pooch Pace and Ed Cottrell.

Six WWII veterans and their families along with volunteers from the museum celebrated their birthdays. The veterans present at the birthday party luncheon were:
•Milt Fletcher, Army, turned 97 on December 31
•Myrl Jean Hughes, Army, turned 101 January 1
•Ed Cottrell, Army Air Corps, will be 102 on January 17
•Joe Cooper, Navy and Army, will be 102 on July 6
•Pooch Pace, Army Air Corps, will be 97 on August 3
•Harold Wellington, Merchant Marine, Army, and Navy, will be 100 on September 29
•George Sarros, Navy, 99 on April 17, was unable to attend
wwii veterans celebration event
wwii veterans celebration event

It is a wonderful feeling to be in their presence, watching them converse with each other and always take the opportunity to share a story with someone.

Joe Cooper: “I served in WWII for duty, honor, and country. That’s right. You go serve your country in a time of need.”

Milt Fletcher: “I was one of the last members who served in WWII. I was happy to serve. I joined selfishly to get a college education. I served in Japan to defend the country and I served during the Korean War to preserve the peace. I’m proud of my country. It helped me buy a home, get my degrees, and I get great help from the VA. I’m very happy to have served and God bless America.”

Harold Wellington: “I was proud to be there and serve.”

Ed Cottrell: “I guess I was like every other guy who was called to serve his country. You chose what branch you wanted and you went.”

Myrl Jean Hughes: “I would not want to repeat it but I would not trade those three years for anything.”

Pooch Pace: “I was real honored to be taking part. I was a pilot in civilian life and I worked in a control tower in Japan in the occupation force.”

Over lunch, Milt Fletcher and Joe Cooper discovered they had both served in the 184th Regiment, 7th Infantry Division at different times—Fletcher in Okinawa and, later, Cooper in Korea. Fletcher said, “Joe served a lot longer than I did. He went in early and came out late. I went in late and came out early.”

The Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas is honored and proud to recognize our veterans as often as possible. Want to know more about our local WWII veterans? Available through the museum is a book entitled: “We Shall Come Home Victorious.” Stories of World War II Veterans by Janis Allen. Presently the museum is closed till March 1, but you may order the book HERE.

book we shall come home victorius