The men and women at Horace Nye helped build the greatest country in the world: the United States. They are part of the "greatest generation" that Tom Brokaw wrote about. They are American heroes.
They came from Moriah, Willsboro, Westport, Elizabethtown, Ticonderoga, Schroon Lake and just about every town in Essex County. They were the brave men and women who joined military service during war and fought to keep us all free. They are our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that helped to raise each one of us. They were our neighbors, our teachers, our volunteer firemen, our coaches, our policemen and so much more. They helped build the middle class in America that largely did not exist before World War II.
Frank is 85 years old and has blue-grey eyes and a devilish smile. Frank was just 18 and graduating from high school when he joined the service at the dawn of World War II.
"I learned that the military had a twisted sense of humor early on," he said. "My training was with the combat engineers. As we sailed to our destination I was surprised to learn that I would be going to India as an engineer, the kind that drives a locomotive, not the kind that builds bridges."
At just eighteen, the responsibility for operating that locomotive was terrifying. The Japanese constantly shot at the train and Frank showed me a nasty scar that ran across his hand and up his arm, the aftermath of a Japanese bayonet attack.
"What I remember most was returning to New York City at the war's end," Frank said. "They really put on the dog for us. I can still taste that porterhouse steak."
Alfred is 83 years old and is a large, imposing man with a powerful handshake. Alfred was stationed at Okinawa, where many Japanese prisoners were held.