LADY'S ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - A group of World War II veterans from the Lowcountry will get the opportunity to visit the WW II Memorial in Washington D.C. thanks to Honor Flight Savannah.
World War II veteran Ed Mitchell, 86, of Lady's Island, S.C., was just 17 years old when he joined the U.S. Navy with his brother.
"I spent 2½ years out in the South Pacific on a small anti-submarine ship fighting," Mitchell recalled. "I think I became a man overnight. From 17, I learned quickly how to become a man."
Memories of the war are still vivid in his mind.
"We moved around and made the invasion of Guam among other things and that was a very scary and exciting thing. We were close to the beach directing officers aboard the ship, Marine and Army officers directing the landing crafts into the proper beaches and all the time. The Japs were shooting at everyone - including us," he said.
He said that the ship was damaged during the invasion, and they were sent back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
"We started practicing for the invasion of Japan, which was going to be the next and final invasion," he said.
It's a mission in which the ship was expected to serve on the front lines.
"Our little ship, doing that, directing landing craft in and so we were doing that but we knew there was a good chance we weren't going to make it."
Mitchell said it was a tough time in his life, but that he's proud to have done his part.
"I'm glad I served in the Navy. I'm glad I got home safe. If I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing. It was very intense and thrilling situation in my life and it did me a lot of good in life, I think," he said.
Decades later, he is going to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. as part of an honor flight.
"I'm pleased to be going, honored and thrilled I'm getting the opportunity because like I said before, chances I would get there on my own, I probably would never," he said.
Honor Flight Savannah will be departing Friday afternoon from Beaufort. About a dozen veterans are making the trip thanks to generous donations. To donate call Owen Hand at 843.524.6310.